Conforto tests swing in Minor League game

Outfielder expects to play field in Minors contest Saturday

March 16th, 2018

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The left shoulder injury that cost the final month of 2017 is further in the rearview mirror. The outfielder returned to game action Friday for the first time since undergoing surgery in September, walking twice in four plate appearances in a Minor League contest.

Conforto looked mostly like himself at the plate, taking a number of pitches and fouling off several more. He saw 22 pitches total. Most importantly, he did not experience any setbacks -- a positive development as he recovers from a torn posterior capsule.

"It was a good first step, a step in the right direction," Conforto said. "It was good to see some pitches and actually have a competitive situation."

Conforto admitted to his timing being slightly off, but "that is to be expected," considering his last in-game at-bat prior to Friday came on Aug. 24 vs. the D-backs.

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The 25-year-old said he no longer feels tightness in his repaired shoulder and has been going through his traditional pregame routine, adding in a bit of stability work. He expects to play the field in a Minor League game Saturday.

"I don't feeling anything in there, you know, I'm not stiff in the morning," Conforto said. "I'm pretty much going through my normal routine in the cage. … It feels like it never happened, but I've got to pay attention to it and be aware of it."

Conforto took batting practice on the field prior to the Mets' Major League Spring Training game vs. the Orioles, which ended in a 4-4 tie. He had no problem driving the ball: On one swing, he hit a pitch halfway up the batter's eye in center field, well above the "410" painted on the wall at First Data Field.

About an hour and a half later, the former first-round Draft pick stepped into the batter's box on a field adjacent to the main stadium and worked a full count before drawing a free pass. He hit into a forceout in his second plate appearance, then walked on a full count again before driving a ball just short of the left-field fence with his final swing of the day.

Conforto batted .279/.384/.555 with 27 home runs and 68 RBIs in 109 games for the Mets in 2017 while being named to the National League All-Star team for the first time in his career.

The fourth-year outfielder has made steady progress as he targets a return to the Mets' lineup on May 1, the timetable general manager Sandy Alderson set for him back in January.

When asked if he is still targeting that return date, Conforto responded: "I'm thinking about tomorrow. I'm thinking about getting my timing back. … We'll see when that date is. It kind of goes by when I feel like I can perform at the level that I need to."