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World Series loss motivates Michael Conforto to improve this season

New York Mets leftfielder Michael Conforto reacts

New York Mets leftfielder Michael Conforto reacts after his fifth-inning home run during Game 4 of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Citi Field on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Months have passed since the end of the World Series, and Mets outfielder Michael Conforto since has had a chance to decompress. After the Royals knocked off the Mets in five games, he took nearly a month off. And before he resumed hitting in December, he traveled to Mexico for a week of rest and relaxation.

Still, the ultimate disappointment of the Mets’ World Series loss has lingered with Conforto, who has channeled what he called the pain of a “devastating loss” into his offseason workouts.

“It definitely still stings, coming so close, especially with the way that series was,” Conforto said on Monday. “We had opportunities to shut the door on them and didn’t quite get the job done as a team. I think it definitely still stings.”

When Conforto arrives at the Mets’ spring training complex next week, it will be the first official step toward easing that pain.

“It absolutely, definitely, motivates us,” Conforto said. “I know everybody on this team feels this pain when they’re getting ready for this season. We’ll just use it to motivate us moving on.”

Should the Mets make a return trip to the World Series, Conforto figures to be a major reason why. The 10th overall pick of the 2014 draft will begin his first full season in the big leagues.

Following his July promotion, Conforto established a strong foundation upon which to build, hitting .270/.335/.506 with nine homers and 26 RBIs. With an advanced approach at the plate, the smooth-swinging lefty emerged as one of the most productive rookies in the NL.

“I know the scouting report’s out now,” he said. “They’ll be a little more prepared to pitch to me. But I want to come in and be prepared for whatever comes my way this year.”

Conforto, 22, said he hopes to improve on his work in leftfield. Though he allayed some concerns about his ability to handle the position last season, Conforto said he intends to improve his communication and awareness in left. He’ll also see some action in rightfield in an effort to improve his versatility, though his experience there is limited.

Said Conforto: “I feel like I can learn that position and feel very comfortable out there.”

Of course, the focus will be on Conforto’s bat. Even with the return of slugger Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets will need Conforto’s pop in the lineup.

“I welcome the expectations,” he said. “I definitely think the attitude to take about it is to take it as a challenge and be a little competitive with it. I’m embracing it.”

Extra bases

The Mets added to their organizational outfield depth when they signed Roger Bernadina to a minor-league deal, which includes an invitation to spring training. Bernadina, 31, played parts of seven seasons with the Nationals from 2008 to 2014. But he spent all of last season with Albuquerque, the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate. He hit .276 with 15 homers and 62 RBIs.

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