PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Michael Conforto played 56 games for the Mets last season, but in showing up a week early for spring training, he hasn’t lost his Double-A attitude.
On Wednesday’s official reporting date for pitchers and catchers, Conforto already was at Tradition Field, knowing he still has plenty of work to do as the incumbent leftfielder.
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“ I don’t think the mindset changes,” Conforto said. “I’m still trying to win a spot on the team.”
A year ago, Conforto wasn’t even invited to major-league camp, getting only a few cameos when the Mets were looking to fill out the roster for Grapefruit League games. But the team’s desperate need for offensive help around the trade deadline last season — along with Conforto tearing up the minors — prompted Sandy Alderson to make the unconventional move of calling him up from Double-A Binghamton on July 24.
Conforto immediately helped, batting .270 with nine homers, 26 RBIs and an .841 OPS. But the Mets tried to ease his transition by using him sparingly against lefthanded pitchers and Conforto is hoping the work he put in this offseason will convince Terry Collins to give him more of an everyday role rather than worry about him against lefties (three hits in 14 at-bats last season).
“I feel comfortable,” Conforto said. “I don’t want that to become a thing in my mind.”
The Mets also plan to try Conforto in rightfield during spring training, a position he hasn’t played since his freshman year at Oregon State. But Conforto, who turns 23 on March 1, is open to anything and is fine with missing out on a chance for Rookie of the Year eligibility this season.
“It’s tough for me to be bummed about having too many big league at-bats ,” Conforto said, smiling. “It is what it is. I wouldn’t trade anything for last year.”