(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
The Mets’ top prospect, Michael Conforto, is here to stay and will retain his spot in the outfield rotation with Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares, and Curtis Granderson.
The Mets sent Eric Campbell to Triple-A Las Vegas on Monday instead of Conforto to clear a roster spot for Michael Cuddyer, who was activated off the disabled list.
Cuddyer went to the disabled list with a bruised knee on July 24th, and that’s when the Mets made the move to bring up Conforto, their top draft pick in 2014, from Double-A Binghamton.
Conforto added a spark to the lineup instantly, as he had four hits and four runs scored in his second game, July 25th against the Dodgers. He hit his first home run, a three-run shot, on August 3rd in Miami.
In 12 games, Conforto is hitting .205 with 8 hits in 39 at-bats, a home run and 8 RBIs, with 6 walks, part of why his on-base percentage is .319. On Monday night, he drew a walk in the seventh inning and scored what would turn out to be the winning run on Daniel Murphy’s two-run single that made it 4-2 Mets.
“I’m glad I’m going to stay. I don’t really know what the role is going to be, but whatever’s asked of me, I’m all in. I’m just here to do what I can to help the team get as many wins as we can. That’s my role,’’ said Conforto of staying with the Mets.
Mets Manager Terry Collins said on Monday afternoon what Conforto has done to impress him and the coaching staff, “Well, he’s lived up to what everybody told us about him. When we drafted this guy, we heard that he was a very good offensive player, maybe even one of the best in the country in college. Great approach, some power, a real good swing, and a guy that everyone thought he was gonna hit. He has done that, he has lived up to that. Is he hitting .350? No, but this is a huge step for him. In his first full season (in the Mets’ system), basically, he’s in the big leagues, and that’s a lot to ask of anybody.
“I think he’s handled himself very well at the plate, he’s played better defense than people have told me that we heard – I’ve been very impressed with that. He’s got a better arm than I heard. He’s a better baserunner than I heard. I guess he was, because he DH’d some in college, so I guess people thought he was gonna be an offensive guy first.
“This guy’s a pretty good baseball player, and I think the more he plays, the more he grows…the issue that certainly we face right now is this kid, I don’t want him to be looked at as a platoon player. He may be now, at this particular moment, because we’re in a pennant race and we have guys on our roster who are paid to hit left-handed pitching, who have a career of hitting left-handed pitching. Right now, he might be a guy who, when we face left-handers, we’ll run somebody else out there. But this kid’s too good an offensive player to say ‘oh boy, he’s gonna be a platoon player’ – he’s not. We’ve been impressed with the entirety of his game and we thought we needed another left-handed bat on our club and that’s why he’s still here,” said Collins.
On how he broke the news to Cuddyer that he is out of the rotation at the moment, Collins said, “I talked to him today, he gets it, he understands, but again, if Michael starts swinging the bat like he’s capable of, we’ve gotta figure out a place to put him in there too. We’re really lucky because, all of a sudden, our roster’s grown with some quality veteran guys who have a background who make us look like a better team, and we are, and therefore, nightly, it’s going to be tough to decide who’s in and who’s out. The best part is we’ve got some pieces over here that we can submit at any time during the games. We’re pretty confident they can get the job done.”
On how he will use Conforto, Collins said, “I’m gonna use Michael in different places besides left field. Tomorrow (Tuesday), he’s gonna play someplace else probably and I want to get Juan in there against the lefty. So, we’ve got some moving parts and we’ll just figure out where, what the best pieces are nightly based on who we’re facing and how guys are doing.”
Collins said to the question of Conforto being the primary left fielder, “He’s gonna play as much as we can get him out there, as much as we think he can help us. I wouldn’t say he’s the primary guy at the moment. He’s a piece like everybody else is.”
On how he is going to balance playing time between Lagares and Conforto, Collins said, “I don’t have an answer for that. I don’t know how we’re going to balance that. We’re gonna play the best guy that we think can help us win on a nightly basis, whoever that may be. The other day, we thought our best outfield was, we wanted to get Grandy (Curtis Granderson) off his feet, especially after he fouled one off his ankle, we though against (Chris) Archer, it would be Kelly Johnson. So, tomorrow (Tuesday) night with (Chris) Rusin throwing, we might put Juan out there, and therefore, Cespedes would go to left, maybe Michael (Conforto) would go to right. I don’t have an answer except that we’re going to put together the lineup that we think will give us the best chance.”
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