The Mets tweeted their lineup for Tuesday night’s game against Cincinnati at Citi Field, and it had a strange name on there against a lefty starter, just the second one they had faced this young season.
Michael Conforto batted cleanup. He singled in three at-bats against Brandon Finnegan and finished 2-for-4 in the Mets’ 4-3 win. For all of his sweet swings, the 23-year-old lefty-hitting leftfielder hadn’t started against a lefty since last July 24 — opening day of his big-league career.
Terry Collins began the season wanting to platoon Conforto with Juan Lagares. But with Yoenis Cespedes out of the lineup due to leg trouble for the fourth straight game, they were both in there. Cespedes could start again as soon as tonight after belting a tying, pinch-hit three-run homer. But if he had started, Conforto may have played anyway.
“Actually, the way he’s swinging, I might have gave (Curtis Granderson) a night off tonight,” Collins said.
Conforto has been a revelation since moving to the 3-hole against righties. But he isn’t getting impatient to be considered an everyday player.
“As long as we’re winning games, my role for whatever it needs to be for that to happen, I’ll be happy with my role,” Conforto told Newsday. “… I don’t think I’m impatient at all. I’ve got to earn my way into the role of playing every day and being a guy that doesn’t get platooned for lefties.”
His average sits at .344 — 21-for-61 — across 18 games. He’s 3-for-10 against lefties. Conforto is confident he can hit them.
“It’s just a matter of getting consistent at-bats there,” he said.
Before this cleanup assignment, his consistent at-bats in the prestigious third slot came with a .378 average, five doubles, three homers and eight RBI in 10 games.
“I think a lot of the success has come from the approach I take to the plate,” Conforto said, “but also I’m being protected by guys who can really hit.”
After his promising .270 rookie season and two homers in Game 4 of the World Series, the 2014 first-rounder stayed in the swing of things at a facility in his native Washington, working on handling inside fastballs and situational hitting.
“It’s a warehouse and it’s kind of old-school,” Conforto said. “It’s not super nice. It’s kind of cold in there. I think it’s an environment where you get that attitude of grinding.”