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Neck Soreness To Blame For Niese's Woes?; Mets' Francisco Suffers Setback

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- In his past two starts, Mets starter Jon Niese has seen his ERA balloon from 3.31 to 5.93.

The New York Daily News reported Monday that soreness in Niese's neck could be to blame for his recent woes. The 26-year-old lost both dreadful outings, walking nine batters and allowing 15 earned runs over 8.1 innings.

Niese's arm angle has been noticeably lower during that span.

"His neck has been bothering him," a Mets source told the Daily News. "He hasn't wanted to talk to (the media) about it, or make excuses. Just a lot of soreness there."

Last week, manager Terry Collins said Niese (2-4) was pitching through lower back stiffness.

The starter admitted he had "a little bit" of neck soreness, but said it "doesn't hurt anymore."

"You try to compensate and (then) create a bad habit," Niese said of his change in arm angle, according to the Daily News.

Meanwhile, reliever Frank Francisco has suffered a setback in his return from offseason surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow. Collins said Francisco recently experienced a recurrence of elbow discomfort at Single-A St. Lucie.

"He was supposed to throw and he's coming off the back-to-backs. Then he threw another (bullpen session) and they thought he was making progress, ready to go to (Double-A) Binghamton. He didn't feel very good, so we thought he should see the doctor again. That's what we're going to do," Collins said on Sunday.

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