PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins phoned Bobby Parnell on Tuesday night to inform him what the manager had already leaked: If Frank Francisco's elbow does not allow him to be ready for the start of the season, Parnell will handle closing duty for the Mets.
Parnell said the call did not catch him by surprise.
"I'm prepared for anything at this point," Parnell said.
Francisco has not been cleared to throw a baseball, even on flat ground, because of swelling in the elbow he had surgically cleaned in December.
So Mets fans may hear Parnell's entry music -- Jake Owen's "Eight Second Ride" -- blaring from the PA system at Citi Field if the Mets have a lead entering the ninth inning on April 1 against the San Diego Padres. Parnell lightheartedly said he'll probably be "too lazy" to come up with a new song choice for 2013.
Parnell went 3-1 with a .196 opponent batting average and 0.51 ERA in his final 17 appearances of last season, which spanned 17 2/3 innings, including finishing games.
"It's as simple as Frankie is coming off surgery. If he's not ready, I'm going to be ready," Parnell said. "I'll just prepare myself like it's the ninth and go from there. I finished well in September, I feel like. Every outing has increased my knowledge. I feel like I'm better prepared than I was. ... I'm going to try to ride that wave from September and keep going."
As for Collins informing him this early in camp, Parnell said: "I definitely appreciate that. I think that him just coming out and saying it is going to help me a lot in getting better in the future, because sometimes it's kind of wishy-washy. Him coming out and saying it bluntly helps a lot."
Parnell added: "The seventh, eighth inning you can give up a run and be tied, in theory. The ninth inning you give up a run and you're possibly losing the game. It is the last line of defense. But you can't think about it like that. If you do, then you've already lost the battle. And that's what I'm learning as I keep going. I just have to go out there and get three outs and not worry about the score or anything like that -- just get it as quick as possible."
Meanwhile, Francisco could not complete his physical Tuesday morning like teammates did because he ate, which meant he could not undergo required blood work.