NEW YORK -- All month, Frank Francisco waited for the Mets to give him a save opportunity. When it finally came, Francisco was unable to pitch.

"That really killed me," Francisco said of the right elbow tendinitis that kept him out of Wednesday's game. "But you know? The only thing we can do is keep fighting."

Francisco hopes to pitch again this season, though manager Terry Collins indicated that the Mets will be cautious with their closer heading down the stretch. Francisco has already missed time this year with knee and midsection injuries, and has a history of elbow trouble.

When healthy enough to pitch, Francisco has struggled, saving 23 games in 26 chances but supplementing that with a 5.53 ERA. The Mets have not given him a save opportunity since Sept. 1.

"He's had some ups and downs," Collins said. "But when you miss as much time as he did ... we're certainly disappointed that we didn't have him healthy all year, but I'd have to say for the majority of the year, he pitched pretty good."

Still, if Francisco has proven anything, it is that the Mets may not be able to count on his health for an entire season. To that end, Collins said he may look for a second pitcher next spring who can step in as closer if Francisco cannot pitch. Collins mentioned Jeurys Familia by name, saying he will look to put Familia in high-pressure situations down the stretch to see how the rookie handles them.

Dickey bumped up from Sunday to Saturday

NEW YORK -- The Mets continue to do whatever they can to smooth the road between R.A. Dickey and a 20-win season, moving up Dickey's next start so he can pitch twice more at home.

Instead of starting Sunday, Dickey will now pitch Saturday against the Marlins on regular rest. That will allow him to come back and start the Mets' final home game against the Pirates next Thursday, instead of opening their series in Atlanta the following day.

In addition to pitting Dickey against a weaker offense and a scuffling team, the move will allow the knuckleballer to avoid Turner Field, where he is 0-1 with a 12.54 ERA in two starts this season.

"He wanted to pitch at home one more time," manager Terry Collins said, noting that Dickey and pitching coach Dan Warthen cooked up the new schedule. "I thought it was a great idea, so we decided to do it that way."

Sitting on 18 wins and a Cy Young Award-caliber stat line, Dickey will now make two of his final three starts against the Marlins and their 27th-ranked offense, and the other against the Pirates and their 22nd-ranked bunch.

Edgin's next outing will be last in '12, say Mets

NEW YORK -- The Mets plan to shut down rookie reliever Josh Edgin following his next outing, as part of a plan to preserve the left-hander's arm for next season.

Though Edgin has thrown merely three more innings this summer than he did last year in the Minors, the Mets have spread them over 25 more appearances. That means that Edgin has warmed in the bullpen more often, and presumably placed significantly more stress on his arm.

The Mets announced that move one day after Edgin blew a save against the Phillies, walking Chase Utley with two outs and serving up a game-winning home to Ryan Howard. But manager Terry Collins said that outing will have no bearing on how the Mets view Edgin next spring, when he is a good bet to break camp with the club as a lefty specialist.

"When you face some of the great hitters in the game, once in a while they're going to win," Collins said. "I thought Josh threw the ball exceptionally well last night. I thought he probably got a huge learning lesson out of it, and you know what? All he has is high upside."

Harvey in 'new territory' after being shut down

NEW YORK -- Matt Harvey's off time began Thursday in the Citi Field outfield, where he played catch with a football to kill some time.

Killing time should be a common theme these final two weeks of September for Harvey, now that the Mets have shut him down on an innings limit. Harvey will continue to run, lift weights and shag fly balls during batting practice, as all pitchers do. But he will not throw bullpen sessions, side sessions or even play catch -- with a baseball, at least.

All of which begs the question of what, exactly, Harvey will do with himself. Players are required to arrive at the ballpark early in the afternoon for a 7:10 p.m. ET game, giving Harvey a half-dozen hours to burn every day.

As far as filling them, his guess is as good as yours.

"It's definitely new territory for me," Harvey said. "Obviously I love being in the dugout, and come 7 o'clock, it's going to be fine. But when I go out and I can't pick up a baseball, it's going to be weird."

Worth noting

• Keith Hernandez will shave his mustache before the Mets' final home game next Thursday, SNY has announced. Schick Hydro will make a donation to Hernandez's charity as part of the event.

• Fred Lewis was in the starting lineup Thursday for the first time since joining the Mets, leading off and playing center field. Lewis, 31, is a seven-year big league veteran of the Giants, Blue Jays, Reds and Mets, stealing a career-high 21 bases for San Francisco in 2008.

• Thursday was team picture day for the Mets, who dressed up in their game uniforms for a group shot in the outfield grass.