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Conforto heating up just what Mets' OF needs

Star outfielder records second career 4-hit game in Friday's win
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- The signs of Michael Conforto's renaissance began surfacing early this month for the Mets, who finally started receiving some production from their All-Star outfielder. But the sample size remained small. Manager Mickey Callaway feared that this week, with two off-days and two consecutive games against left-handed pitchers, might disjoint Conforto's quest for consistency.

Turns out those worries were unfounded. Back to facing right-handed pitching on Friday, Conforto matched his career high with four hits in a 3-1 win over the D-backs, singling home two of New York's runs.

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NEW YORK -- The signs of Michael Conforto's renaissance began surfacing early this month for the Mets, who finally started receiving some production from their All-Star outfielder. But the sample size remained small. Manager Mickey Callaway feared that this week, with two off-days and two consecutive games against left-handed pitchers, might disjoint Conforto's quest for consistency.

Turns out those worries were unfounded. Back to facing right-handed pitching on Friday, Conforto matched his career high with four hits in a 3-1 win over the D-backs, singling home two of New York's runs.

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"That was big," Callaway said. "I think that all of us kind of saw this coming. You can't ever predict he's going to get four hits or have a career high, things like that. But you could see him coming out of it."

It isn't the first time. When Conforto shot out to a hot start in April after skipping the season's first week to complete his rehab from shoulder surgery, it seemed as if that injury would have no lingering effects. But from April 13-May 6, Conforto fell into an 8-for-58 (.138) slump. Callaway chalked it up to Conforto's lack of at-bats during Spring Training, calling the early season his extended spring.

Video: ARI@NYM: deGrom, Conforto on leading Mets to a win

Whatever the reason behind his slump, Conforto was frustrated, bemoaning a lack of timing at the plate. Only on the team's last road trip did he begin showing signs of life, collecting two hits, including a homer, May 7 against the Reds, then two more, including another long ball, on May 11 in Philadelphia. Four of Conforto's six hardest-hit balls this season have come since the start of that trip, according to Statcast™ data, including the 107.7-mph single he hit in the fifth inning Friday off Arizona starter Zack Godley.

That one went to right field. Conforto's first two hits went to left. His fourth, which tied a career high, didn't leave the infield, which is just fine for a player happy to take the batting average boost however it comes.

"When you come out of a slump, it's not all of a sudden you're going to show up and crush all the baseballs that are thrown at you," Conforto said. "It's kind of gradual as well. So over the past five or six games, I've felt good. … It's a process. I feel like I'm in a good place."

Video: ARI@NYM: Conforto knocks a 2-out RBI single to left

If nothing else, he won't have to worry about disjointed schedules anymore. With Yoenis Cespedes on the disabled list and Juan Lagares likely done for the year, Conforto will start almost every day in center field for the foreseeable future, even against lefties.

Given that responsibility, the Mets can only hope that his hot streak lasts even longer than his cold snap did.

"We've got to step up," Conforto said. "The outfielders that we do have, we've got to step up and kind of take over for them. We have depth in the outfield, and it's coming in pretty clutch for us."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Michael Conforto