Darling Suggests Conforto Should Start Over Bruce

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Gary Apple and Ron Darling had a spirited give and take during Friday’s 11-3 spring training win over the Astros about Michael Conforto and his possible place on the New York Mets opening day roster.

While the Jay Bruce saga has been discussed and argued to death, there is little possibility he will not be on the opening day roster come April 3 when the Atlanta Braves come to Citi Field.  So as Conforto continued his hot spring Apple brought up the question as to what to do with him if he keeps hitting like this.

Conforto, 24, Is batting .421 (8-19) through seven games, second-best in the Grapefruit League entering play today. His 15 total bases are tied for the third-most in the Grapefruit League and he’s fourth in the league with a 1.239 OPS.

When Ron Darling countered that there was no way Conforto could not be starting if he continues to play and hit like he has been, Apple started to put him on the spot.  “Cespedes is in left field, Granderson is in center field, and Jay Bruce is going to be in right field,” Apple said. “Where exactly is Conforto going to play?”

Without disparaging Bruce, Darling responded that Michael Conforto was a first round pick and an integral part of the the organization’s future. “It’s very important to get a player like Conforto out there when he is hitting the ball with such authority and is a part of the future. This is an opportunity to really get him established at the big league level.”

After a brief discussion about how the Mets minor league system could become a pipeline for position players just as it has been for pitchers, with players like Dominic Smith and Amed Rosario almost ready to contribute at the major league level, Gary Apple once again brought the discussion back to Bruce and Conforto.

Apple pressed Darling and asked him a rather pointed question: “Even if Conforto continues to hit this good through the end of spring training, would you expect the Mets to start him over an All-Star from last year?  A guy who hit over 30 homers and had close to 100 RBIs?”

Darling did not mince words: “If I wasn’t already making myself clear: absolutely.”

While no one expects Conforto to hit .425 over the next four weeks, it will be an interesting dilemma if he does continue to drive the ball with the consistency he has shown thus far.

As manager Terry Collins pointed out in a recent postgame press conference, this is the Michael Conforto we’ve been waiting for. The ball is jumping off his bat and he has a clue and knows what he’s doing up there.

Whatever happens over the next 28 days, it’s definitely a pretty good problem to have.

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About Howard Gardos 21 Articles

Howard has been a Mets fan since the days of Nino Espinosa and Doug Flynn. He loves watching them win and hates watching them lose (a lot). He is also a writer who has several non Mets novels available for Kindles. Thanks for reading and please share your thoughts.