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Francisco may still return this week

Francisco may still return this week

PHOENIX -- Closer Frank Francisco's rehab setback was concerning for the Mets, to be certain, but not necessarily debilitating. A day after scratching himself from a Minor League outing with soreness in his left side, Francisco threw a scoreless inning for Double-A Binghamton on Sunday, allowing one hit and throwing nine of his 12 pitches for strikes.

With that stat line on his ledger, Francisco could join the Mets as soon as this week in San Francisco. Though not as likely as it once was, that scenario is still possible because manager Terry Collins said he does not need to see Francisco pitch in back-to-back games before activating him.

On the disabled list since June 23 with a strained left oblique, Francisco has experienced two setbacks due to pain in his left side and a third because of trouble with his knee.

In Francisco's absence, Bobby Parnell has saved three games in five chances with a 2.31 ERA, striking out more than a batter per inning. But Francisco was one of the club's best relievers prior to his injury, converting 10 of his last 11 save opportunities with a 1.76 ERA. Collins said that if the Mets did not believe Francisco would return soon, they might have more aggressively explored trades for a reliever prior to Tuesday's Trade Deadline.

Instead, Collins said, general manager Sandy Alderson is unlikely to do anything significant.

"Because of what he said today," Collins said of Francisco, "I think he'll be back shortly."