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Michael Conforto enjoying the ride on the fast track

New York Mets leftfielder Michael Conforto is greeted

New York Mets leftfielder Michael Conforto is greeted in the dugout after his solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the second inning of a baseball game at Citi Field on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Michael Conforto's baseball career feels like someone jammed on the fast forward button and forgot to hit stop.

There's Conforto at Oregon State, earning all sorts of accolades.


There he is in the draft in 2014, and with the Brooklyn Cyclones shortly after. Here comes Port St. Lucie, and a stint with Binghamton and halfway through the season . . .


And there is Conforto now -- 22, with half a year of major-league experience, and less than two years of professional baseball experience -- getting ready for his first playoff game on Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He still remembers spring training, when he was just excited to be on the same field as the rest of the Mets, he said Wednesday before team workouts, and now he's tasked to help them win a World Series.

"I've had some really, really exciting times this year, and every time I got moved up, I got a little closer to being with these guys," he said at a pre-workout news conference, a sign of how far he's come in a short period. "Knowing that I get to come to the field and do what I can to help this team win, it's really just a blessing."

Its been well-earned. He hit .270 in 194 at-bats with nine homers and 26 RBIs, and has proved to be a weapon against righthanded pitchers. And Conforto, previously thought to be a defensive liability, has been anything but in leftfield. He hasn't made an error in 85 opportunities, has six assists, and the video of his over-the-shoulder, diving catch to rob the Yankees' Brett Gardner has made the highlight-reel rounds.

"I told him the other day when we clinched, I said, 'You're getting an opportunity not a lot of guys in your shoes have ever been in -- half year in the minor leagues and now you're in the big leagues and you're going to a playoff," Terry Collins said. "You're going to learn a lot, and you're going to grow fast."

That said, the likelihood is that Conforto won't get as many chances as he usually does, courtesy of the Dodgers' lefty-heavy rotation. Clayton Kershaw and Brett Anderson are locks for Games 1 and 3, while the Dodgers also have lefty Alex Wood, a possible Game 4 starter. Conforto is 3-for-14 against lefties, with an RBI, a walk and three strikeouts, and is usually subbed out for Michael Cuddyer in those situations.

"I'm going to do my best and do whatever I can" against lefties, he said. "It's not like I haven't seen it before and it's not like I won't see it again . . . I feel ready, absolutely."

It's no shock that Conforto doesn't allow himself much of a learning curve -- he hasn't much needed one yet. And Collins, while noting that these playoffs will go a long way in his maturation, wasn't above doing some fast-forwarding of his own.

"He better plan on being in a lot of these," he said of Conforto, "because he's going to be a great player."

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