PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Still eyeing Opening Day as a realistic possibility, Mets closer Frank Francisco tested his balky right elbow Monday with a series of throws off flat ground.
Francisco played catch with manager Terry Collins at the Mets' Port St. Lucie complex, throwing 25 times at distances up to 60 feet. It was Francisco's first throwing session since doctors shut him down earlier this month with inflammation in his surgically repaired right elbow; the closer is scheduled to throw again on Wednesday.
"It's a step forward, for sure," Collins said. "The swelling has subsided. The discomfort has subsided. And so now we've got to take these gradual baby steps as we get closer to getting him back to where he needs to be.
"We've got five weeks. We've still got a lot of time."
The Mets have already announced that if Francisco is not ready to pitch on Opening Day, Bobby Parnell will open the season at closer. With a strong spring, Parnell could earn the job even if Francisco is healthy.
Duda to miss some games to get his swing right
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Two Spring Training games may not provide nearly enough data to draw responsible conclusions, but they do provide enough to increase concern.
After Lucas Duda went 0-for-7 with six strikeouts in his first two Grapefruit League games, Mets manager Terry Collins decided to hold Duda out of the lineup for at least the next two contests. Collins is concerned that Duda needs more time to work his swing into shape after injuring his wrist over the winter.
"I'm not here to embarrass anybody," Collins said. "So when he's ready to play, we're going to get him back in there. I'm hoping by Wednesday or Thursday he's back in the lineup."
Though Duda reported to camp fully recovered from the right wrist fracture he sustained while moving furniture in November, he was behind his normal schedule due to an inability to swing over the winter. Duda also recently tweaked his batting stance, resulting in some initial discomfort at the plate.
"His wrist doesn't hurt," Collins said. "He said, 'You know, I'm so used to taking a lot of swings to get ready for games.' He said due to the wrist, his workload has been cut back so much, he's just not ready to hit."
The Mets have already named Duda their starting left fielder, counting on him to improve upon the .239 average and .718 OPS that resulted in a demotion to the Minors last July. So they hope his first two Grapefruit League games are just an early hiccup, and not the start of a troubling trend.
"It's two games," Duda said. "We're not going to hit the panic button just yet."
Tejada out of lineup with right quad cramp
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Ruben Tejada sat out Monday night's game against the Nationals with a cramped right quadriceps, which he does not expect to linger into the rest of the week. Tejada said he felt his leg cramp during running drills Monday, and he sat out the game as a precaution.
"It's nothing," Tejada said. "I feel it, but I don't [want to] push it too much. It's prevention to stay healthy. This is spring. I felt it today and I stopped."
Manager Terry Collins said Tejada could have played Monday if the stakes were higher. He plans to keep Tejada out of the lineup on Tuesday, as well.
• Johan Santana (left shoulder weakness) participated in another long-toss session Monday, remaining on track to make his Grapefruit League debut in approximately two weeks. If Santana has a setback and is unable to pitch on Opening Day, Jeremy Hefner and Collin McHugh are the top candidates to replace him in the rotation.
• Outfielder Collin Cowgill hit leadoff for the Mets on Monday, in a role he may reprise regularly against left-handed pitchers during the regular season. Collins said that if Cowgill and Kirk Nieuwenhuis open the season in a center-field platoon, they are likely to platoon at leadoff as well.