MIAMI — Michael Conforto was seated at his own podium, one of more than two dozen representing the National League that ringed the outfield warning track at Marlins Park. Surrounded by fellow All-Stars during Monday’s workout news conference, Conforto probably never felt more alone.
Despite the personal triumph and all the perks that come with being an All-Star, Conforto seemed like a kid at a birthday party that none of his friends showed up to. As the Mets’ only representative at the Midsummer Classic, he didn’t have any teammates as podium neighbors to joke around with and share the experience.
“I was hoping some other guys would make it,” Conforto said. “I was hoping Jay Bruce would make it. That Jacob deGrom would make it.”
Nope. Just Conforto, and his bruised left hand barely healed in time to allow him to participate in Tuesday night’s game, if NL manager Joe Maddon finds a spot to squeeze him in.
The NL squad has a few former Mets sharing the same clubhouse with Conforto — Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner — but now he’s the one left carrying the torch for a franchise that has fallen on hard times.
As for handling a bat Tuesday night, Conforto anticipates that he should be fine, even though he came off the disabled list only three days before the All-Star Game after missing 10 games with the injury.
After landing Sunday night in Miami and getting his friends and family squared away, he was pleased to wake up Monday with no problems after going 1-for-4 in Sunday’s 6-0 loss to the Cardinals.
“I’m good to go,” Conforto said. “My hand is feeling really good. I’ve had no problems with it.”
Now that he’s fine physically, Conforto has some catching up to do at the plate, as the shiny new All-Star pick lost some of its luster in the weeks leading up to the game in Miami. He earned his selection during the first two months, when he batted .316 with 13 home runs, 34 RBIs and a 1.054 OPS through the first 47 games.
There was a time when Conforto’s own torrid start was compared to that of Aaron Judge’s path of destruction across town, but that talk obviously has disappeared entirely. Since June 1, a span of 23 games, Conforto is batting .209 (14-for-67) with one homer, seven RBIs and a .690 OPS.
Not exactly an All-Star month, and his troubles were compounded when he got drilled on that left hand by the Giants’ Matt Moore on June 25.
Maybe these two days in Miami can give Conforto a boost heading into the second half. Have some fun, possibly contribute in the game itself. Given the Mets’ frustrating season, it might be a little difficult for him to completely clear his mind of that, but a mini-vacation from that daily aggravation certainly won’t hurt.
“Me being the only guy from the Mets makes it all the more special for me, but a number of [teammates] did deserve it,” Conforto said. “That would have been great, but it’s just me.”