Michael Conforto came to the major leagues with the scouting reports indicating that he had limited range and average arm strength. He defied that with only three errors and 12 assists in his first 181 big-league games.
That all changed quickly Sunday when Conforto made two throwing errors that allowed two unearned runs in the Mets’ 11-1 loss to the Pirates.
Conforto almost had a good game, given that his double and single in three official at-bats raised his average to .308. But that received scant attention afterward. Two high throws by the leftfielder, over third base in the first inning and over second base in the third, allowed John Jaso to take third base both times. Jaso scored on a groundout in the first and on a sacrifice fly in the third as the Pirates took a 4-1 lead.
“If we don’t make those errors, it’s a different scenario,’’ Terry Collins said. “We haven’t played great defensively behind [the starting pitchers], so that hasn’t helped.’’
Much of the game was played in a light rain, but Conforto refused to say it affected his grip.
“It really wasn’t that slick,’’ he said. “I think it was just trying to do too much out there. Just kind of one of those days where I was getting under the ball a little bit. A couple of those runs are on me. Just feeling the ball. That’s why it’s important to keep it down. Even if I short-hop it, the infielders are real good at keeping it in front. So lesson learned.”
Given the initial reports, Conforto’s defense had been a revelation. It bothered him that he took what amounted to two steps back.
“I think of myself as an accurate thrower,’’ he said. “I take pride in that, so it is a little bit disappointing. But like I said, it’s a lesson learned. I’ll have it in the back of my head the next time I’m trying to throw somebody out: Keep the ball down.’’
Collins was willing to give Conforto a pass of sorts, believing that the errors were an aberration.
“Absolutely,’’ Collins said. “This kid’s really played great defensively. Two good throws just got away from him. I have yet to see the kid ever not make a pretty good throw, and today he made two of them. Guys are always saying, ‘Hey, look, you know, it happens,’ so I think he’ll be fine.’’
Mets starting pitcher Tyler Pill has had to contend with errors in both of his starts since his promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas. “It doesn’t [help],’’ he said of the miscues. “But it’s part of the game.’’
With Seth Lugo and Steven Matz about to rejoin the team after rehab starts in the minors, Pill may have made his last start for some time, although he said he hasn’t been told anything.
“They haven’t, but I’m here for them,’’ Pill said. “I’m ready for whatever they need me for.’’