PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Mets manager Mickey Callaway confirmed Sunday that Michael Conforto will play rightfield exclusively during the regular season.
“He’s playing a great rightfield,” Callaway said. “Man, he looks great out there.”
Another reason: So Conforto doesn’t have to switch positions when (if?) Yoenis Cespedes returns to reclaim leftfield.
Callaway said Cespedes is going to begin a throwing program Monday. The slugger is expected to be out until at least midseason after surgery on both heels.
“We had in the back of our mind when we made this decision Cespedes may return at some point,” Callaway said. “And we don’t have to move Conforto over or whatever. It just made a lot of sense to us.”
HRs back Matz vs. Cards
Steven Matz threw four shutout innings and Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil and Travis d’Arnaud homered as the Mets beat the Cardinals, 9-1, at First Data Field.
Rosario, in his first game after being hit in the left hand with a pitch Monday, hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat.
McNeil, who went 2-for-3 with his second homer, played five innings in his first appearance of spring training at third base.
He said he felt comfortable despite having only one ball hit his way, a second-inning dribbler by Yairo Muñoz on which McNeil threw late to first.
Matz slipped off the mound when he started going after Muñoz’s ball but was not injured. The lefthander gave up three hits, walked one and struck out two.
D’Arnaud caught the final three innings in his first appearance behind the plate in a spring training game and homered in his first at-bat. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Callaway said d’Arnaud has had 11 at-bats in spring training games, “B” games and intrasquad games and has eight hits.
“I guess a year off does good when you’re trying to hit,” Callaway said. “He’s in a very comfortable place at the plate, but more impressive was behind the plate. He’s in a really good spot.”
Elbow trouble for Smith
Righthander Drew Smith went back to New York for evaluation of a sore pitching elbow.
Smith went 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA for the Mets last season after being obtained from the Rays in July 2017 in a trade for Lucas Duda.
Smith hasn’t given up an earned run in four spring training games, though he allowed 11 baserunners in four innings.
“After his outing the other day, he came out and just felt some tightness,” Callaway said. “So we’re having that addressed and we’re having him looked at.”