The first thing I thought of when I heard Michael Conforto would be the Mets’ representative in the All-Star Game was: Isn’t this the guy they don’t want to play?
The guy GM Sandy Alderson didn’t want to bring up, and manager Terry Collins doesn’t want to start, will be in Miami next week, hopefully for the first of many All-Star appearances. And, hopefully, when he rejoins the Mets, Collins will find a place for him in his outfield.
CONFORTO: Player Mets don’t want to play is All-Star?
Perhaps the Mets will clear a spot for him by trading Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, but what they do this week in Washington and St. Louis will determine whether they are buyers or sellers.
Yoenis Cespedes, foolishly re-signed by Alderson, has a no-trade clause in his four-year, $110-million contract so he isn’t going anywhere.
Conforto began the season coming off the bench, primarily as a pinch-hitter, but moved into the starting lineup when Cespedes was injured (his injury history, along with his salary and the Mets’ other needs are why I didn’t want him back).
Conforto started hitting the way he did at the end of the 2015 season and in April of 2016 before he tailed). At the time, Collins proclaimed him as the Mets’ No. 3 hitter of the future. He dropped off again this season, then sustained a bruise bone when he was struck by a pitch last week in San Francisco.
“I really didn’t think back to that,’’ Conforto told reporters of his role coming out of spring training. “Really, what I thought back to was the hard work that I’ve put in this offseason and in spring training. I always had a feeling that even if I didn’t start with the team, I knew I was going to make an impact at some point.’’
Conforto is hitting .285 with a .405 on-base percentage and .356 with 26 RBI with runners in scoring position.
“Obviously, last year was a learning experience for me and something I had to go through,’’ Conforto said. “I look at it as part of my journey. … You have to let it fuel your fire, which is definitely something it did for me.’’