Latest News – July 24
After a couple of weeks of deliberation about playing Michael Conforto in center field, Mets manager Terry Collins finally took the opportunity to play Conforto in center field in spacious Marlins Park on Saturday night.
After coming in as a pinch-hitter and stroking a single in the sixth inning of last night’s 7-2 loss to the Marlins, Conforto remained in the game and made his professional debut in center field.
Before the series, Collins said he would wait until the Mets returned to Citi Field to introduce Conforto to center field, but with the Mets already down by four runs he decided to make the move.
Conforto only had one ball hit to him, but he fielded it cleanly and said he felt good out there and that he’ll get better at the position with more practice. “I felt pretty comfortable. I’m just going to be getting more work at it every single day.”
The Mets plan on using Conforto in center field moving forward so that Yoenis Cespedes can get more time to fully heal his right quadriceps.
Original Report – July 18
The move comes as a bit of a surprise, considering Conforto has never played a major league inning at the position. However, with star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes‘ request to play left field due to a recent quadriceps injury, Collins is clearly making every effort to accommodate his star player.
Before his demotion, the young lefty was in a complete tailspin, batting .144 over 157 at bats in May and June. Once in Triple A Las Vegas, he turned it on, batting .344 with three home runs and 15 RBI in just 16 games.
Conforto’s potential move to center favors Curtis Granderson, who will continue to see the bulk of the playing time in right field. What remains to be seen is how Juan Lagares fits into the Mets’ outfield jigsaw puzzle. The 2014 Gold Glove winner has swung the bat better against right handed pitching this season while playing top notch defense in center field.
Despite the challenges of learning a new position at the game’s highest level, Conforto remains optimistic about the opportunity.
“I’ll be an athlete. I’ll go make the plays. I’ll do whatever I can.”