Frank nearing, but Parnell closer ... for now

US Presswire

Bobby Parnell isn't giving up the closer role when Frank Francisco returns. Not immediately, anyway.

Frank Francisco has pitched on consecutive days with Class A St. Lucie, signaling he is moving closer to being activated from the disabled list. Sandy Alderson said Francisco should have at least another appearance in the minors as part of a rehab assignment, although Terry Collins was unsure if that would be at St. Lucie or a higher level such as Double-A Binghamton.

What happens when Francisco returns from the bout of elbow inflammation?

No surprise: At least initially Bobby Parnell will remain the closer.

"Frankie has got to show us that he can pitch back-to-back days up here -- that he's strong enough," Collins said. "We're talking three days in a row. Can he do that? The one thing I don't think we're ready to do is start to juggle our bullpen at this particular moment when Bobby has done such a good job. We'll wait until Frankie gets here to make those determinations."

As for Francisco's Sunday and Monday appearances in the Florida State League, Collins said: "The reports are his velocity has been good, his command has been pretty good."

Francisco's maximum 30-day rehab assignment began on April 17 with St. Lucie, so he almost definitely is within 10 days of returning.