Frank Francisco has allowed runs in each of his last four appearances and was yanked from Sunday’s save opportunity with two outs remaining in the ninth inning, but manager Terry Collins is sticking with the struggling right-hander in the closer role.
“I just told him yesterday was one of those days, that he’s still the closer here and to be ready to pitch when we get him back out there,” Collins told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
Collins also revealed that Francisco wasn’t happy to be removed mid-save situation, but added that “I certainly don’t blame him … if I was in his shoes, I’d be mad too.”
Jon Rauch has served as Francisco’s primary setup man and would be the obvious choice to replace him as closer if Collins decides to make a switch, but for now the manager is blaming sporadic work for some of the struggles and a two-year, $12 million contract signed this offseason gives Francisco quite a bit of job security.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.