The Mets put Michael Conforto through a rigorous series of drills on Wednesday afternoon to see if they can get him out of a funk that had his average down to .209.
Manager Mickey Callaway then made the easy decision to sit Conforto against Braves lefthander Sean Newcomb. Righthanded hitter Juan Lagares gets the start in centerfield.
Conforto beat the Mets’ projections by returning from his shoulder injury on April 5. The team would have been happy with May 1. Conforto homered against the Nationals in his first game back but hasn’t gone deep since.
“I think he has 67 at-bats,” Callaway said. “That’s what you get in a spring training. He went out there early [Wednesday], took early BP and was really working on staying up through the middle of the field with his swing and not coming around the ball and getting on top of it. He looked really good. So kind of a reason we gave him a day off, to go out there and really work on some things and not be tired in the game. He’s going to be just fine. He’s a really good, special player that doesn’t let things bother him very much. He’s going to break out of this soon.”
Vargas tries again
Jason Vargas will make his second start on Thursday afternoon after he gave up nine runs in 3 2⁄3 innings on Saturday in San Diego.
Callaway said Vargas may have unconsciously changed his motion because he was pitching in front of a screen for a month to protect his surgically repaired right (non-throwing) hand, which was broken in spring training. Vargas didn’t start his season until he was able to put on a glove and field his position.
“He was really diving in with his shoulder,” Callaway said. “It looked like he was trying to throw around something.”