Michael Conforto didn’t have a good night at work Friday. Besides going hitless and striking out three times, he missed a cutoff man on a throw home from centerfield in the Mets’ loss to the Cubs at Citi Field. Mickey Callaway didn’t let it go.
The manager called a team meeting over the fundamentally unsound sights and then addressed Conforto’s bad moment with the media without using his name. Everyone knew whom he was talking about.
Conforto didn’t put pressure on himself to have a bounce-back game Saturday night, but the 25-year-old outfielder had one of sorts, hitting a tying solo homer in the sixth and not airmailing any throws over the catcher. But he also struck out twice, grounded out, flied out and was intentionally walked in the Mets’ 7-1, 14-inning loss to Chicago.
“I don’t know if I put any extra emphasis on this game because of that,” Conforto said of Callaway’s comments. “I think as a competitive player, it’s not like I needed him to call me out. I knew what I did wrong. But at the same time, I think that’s his job to outline some of the things that we need to do better.
“So I think I went out there and just tried to do my job, just execute, not try to do too much. I guess when you don’t try to do too much, you hit homers and throw through the cutoff man. That’s what I’m trying to go out there and do now: Just stay within myself and play hard and do the right things.”
Cubs starter Mike Montgomery was working with a 1-0 lead and had a one-hitter going when Conforto came up with two outs in the sixth, lefty against lefty. Montgomery, throwing his final inning, fired a 92-mph fastball on a 2-and-1 count and Conforto lined it over the fence in left-centerfield for his seventh homer.
“I think I got one of the few mistakes he made,” Conforto said.
The mistake that really ticked off Callaway on Friday night came when Kyle Schwarber lifted a sacrifice fly to cut the Mets’ lead to 2-1. Conforto uncorked a throw to the plate to try to get Addison Russell, but it sailed over Devin Mesoraco and allowed Tommy La Stella to take second. Ben Zobrist delivered the tying double and Kris Bryant singled for the lead. The Mets lost, 7-4.
“We have to play the game the right way,” Callaway said afterward. “When you miss the cutoff man and the guy takes an extra base in a close game like that, we could have kept the double play in order and we airmailed it home. That’s stuff you learn when you’re 18, and we just didn’t do it tonight.”
Besides hitting the target with his throws, the Mets need Conforto to start producing more runs. He’s batting .236 with only 16 RBIs in 47 games. After this 1-for-5 night, he’s at .295 with four homers and seven RBIs in his last 17 games.
“I feel good,” Conforto said. “Tonight I had some good at-bats and some bad at-bats. It’s just that consistency that I’m looking for. We’re working every day on it, and I think we’re in a good spot.”