Conforto takes it all in, singles in All-Star debut

July 11th, 2017

MIAMI -- bounced from camera to camera on Tuesday evening, his presence in demand. In the National League team's clubhouse, Conforto discussed his three-day stay in Miami, where he was the Mets' lone representative in the 88th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. On the field, he clutched microphones from multiple television networks, each of them eager for a minute of his time.

Such were the trappings of All-Star life for Conforto, who dunked a single into left field in the seventh inning of the NL's 2-1 loss to the American League at Marlins Park, finishing 1-for-2 in his Midsummer Classic debut.

"It was awesome -- definitely a good way to experience my first one," Conforto said. "Being here in Miami was pretty cool and it was a great group of guys to be around. It was a lot of fun."

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The game also wound up quickening Conforto's pulse more than he might have expected. In the bottom of the ninth, Conforto came to the plate with runners on the corners and two outs, needing just another bloop single to win the game. A hit might have netted Conforto the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Instead, he swung through a 98-mph fastball in the upper third of the strike zone, sending things to extra innings.

"There was definitely a lot of adrenaline," Conforto said. "I wanted that last hit pretty bad. Kimbrel's got some good stuff. It's like a bowling ball coming in there. I was hoping for that last one but it didn't work out."

Instead, Conforto's single was the All-Star capstone for a player who said he always felt he belonged on this stage. A jolt of youth and optimism for the Mets in 2015, he became a sophomore disappointment last year, his rookie magic apparently spent. But Conforto retooled over the winter, rebuilding his swing, eventually parlaying all of that work into a trip to Miami.

Monday night, Conforto whooped and hollered with his NL teammates, in awe of 's T-Mobile Home Run Derby performance. Often compared to Judge as another of New York's finest young stars, Conforto rode alongside him Tuesday in the All-Star Red Carpet parade through downtown Miami. Conforto spent time with his mother, Tracie, a former Olympic gold medalist, and other family members. He traded jokes with his agent, Scott Boras, during media day.

Conforto soaked all of it in, knowing exactly what led to his presence in Miami.

"Last year at this time, I was in Triple-A," Conforto said. "I've definitely looked back on the struggle of last year, and just all the hard work I put in during the offseason, as well as this year. It feels good for it to all kind of culminate here in the All-Star Game."