SEATTLE — Michael Conforto spent his offseason focused on speed and agility exercises, a plan designed to silence any lingering questions about his defense in the outfield.
That work showed up on Saturday in a 3-2 loss to the Mariners, when Conforto made a pair of web gems. Both came against Kyle Seager.
The first was a third-inning diving catch after a long run in leftfield, which took away a hit and robbed the Mariners of a run.
Said Conforto: “I thought I had shot, then it started to kind of tail back toward me.”
The second came in the eighth inning, this time on a perfect one-hop throw to cut down Seager at the plate.
“It’s definitely rewarding to have that show up on the field a little bit,” said Conforto, whose work was designed to give the Mets confidence in his ability to play centerfield.
Conforto also added an RBI single in the ninth, extending what has been a happy homecoming. A native of nearby Redmond, Washington, Conforto’s first game at Safeco Field on Friday included a pair of solo homers.
But on Saturday, it was Conforto’s defense that shined. Metrics such as defensive runs saved have Conforto at minus-2 for the season in the outfield. But Collins said Conforto has shed the defensive doubts that followed him upon his promotion in 2015.
Said Collins: “What we’ve heard and what we’ve seen are two completely different things.”
Conforto has three outfield assists this season after finishing with four last year.
“He’s worked very, very hard at being a good outfielder,” Collins said. “He’s an accurate thrower. He’s got a good arm. He’s worked hard on his routes.”
AJ Ramos could join the Mets as early as Sunday’s series finale against the Mariners, Collins said. The unusual deal earned praise from rival scouts and executives, who called the trade to acquire the veteran reliever “creative.”
“No-brainer for them to pull the trigger on that one,” said one executive.
Ramos was acquired from the Marlins in a surprise trade on Friday, in which the Mets sent a pair of prospects. The deal was unusual in that the Mets acquired a veteran player even after falling out of contention and committing to a sell-off leading up to Monday’s deadline.
But the Mets made the move with next season in mind. Ramos is under team control for 2018, when he’s expected to make around $9 million in arbitration.
Said Collins: “We’re certainly very, very excited to have him.”
For this season, the deal was a financial wash after Lucas Duda was traded to the Rays earlier in the week. Meanwhile, source said Mets officials remain confident that they can receive prospects of greater value than they part with by dealing closer Addison Reed before Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline.