ST. LOUIS — Coming off a miserable sophomore season in which he was demoted to the minor leagues, Mets outfielder Michael Conforto began spring training on the outside looking in. With a spot on the roster far from guaranteed, he appeared ticketed for Triple-A Las Vegas.
On Sunday, Conforto hurried to pack his bags, scrambling to make a flight to Miami, where he will be the Mets’ lone representative as a reserve in the All-Star Game.
“It’s just a lot of hard work and just taking advantage of my opportunities, making sure I show up every day ready to go,” said Conforto, who went 1-for-4 in a 6-0 loss to the Cardinals. “It’s been a good first half so far and we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Conforto, 24, is hitting .284 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs. Along the way, he made the best of his chances. When Juan Lagares went down with an oblique injury, Conforto took his spot on the bench. When Yoenis Cespedes suffered a hamstring injury, Conforto took off. His tear during the first months of the season helped propel the Mets.
“That’s got to be the biggest surprise of the first half, how he’s played and what he’s accomplished,” manager Ter ry Collins said. “Hopefully he continues as we start up next Friday.”
Conforto said he felt no issues with his bruised left hand, which sent him to the disabled list before he was activated on Saturday. His start on Sunday was his first since June 23, shortly before his DL stint.
“I’m really excited, definitely really excited to get down to Miami, see my family, see my friends,” Conforto said. “I’m excited to just be around the best in the league and try to soak it all in.”
Jacob deGrom will start the Mets’ first game out of the All-Star break Friday against the Rockies. He’ll be followed by Seth Lugo and Steven Matz, with Zack Wheeler pushed back to give him extra rest . . . Despite a career-high eight-game hitting streak, T.J. Rivera did not start the game. Rivera has hit .448 during his streak and .369 since June 10.