As things are wrapping up in Port St. Lucie and the team is filling the final slots for their Opening Day roster one player is just starting to get his reps.
That player is arguably the best all-around player the Mets have, Michael Conforto. Conforto has been rehabbing from a gruesome shoulder injury that he suffered last August. Conforto was taking a normal at-bat when all of the sudden he took a big hack that resulted in a torn posterior capsule and separated his shoulder.
He has been rehabbing all offseason and the Mets said that a realistic return date for the young slugger would be May 1st, which Mets fans are more than okay with as long as he comes back healthy. In his absence, the Mets will fill his spot in the lineup with a mixture of Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo manning center field.
That date is fine but Conforto is making it seem like he is on pace to return in mid-April if he continues on this path.
Conforto has been taking things slowly this Spring Training as the team wants to make sure he does not do too much too fast. Nonetheless, he has been able to work through each step of baseball activities with ease. The team even had built in off days so he did not move too quickly.
The young outfielder is moving through the process so quickly in fact, that I believe he will be back well before the May 1st date that Sandy Alderson set as a possible return date for Conforto. The reason why I believe he will be able to get back way before May 1st is because he has been playing in minor league games for the past week.
He has not played in Major League Spring Training games this year but he is lined up to DH today as MLB.com beat reporter, Anthony DiComo reported today. That game will be an intrasquad game between the AAA Mets and the Major League team.
Although he has been playing against minor leaguers he is still getting the reps he needs at the plate and in the field to get ready for MLB baseball. The first game Conforto played in was March 16th where he took four at-bats and walked twice.
Since then he has played in 5 games and played the field a few times as well. Two days ago he hit two home runs in 10 at-bats (minor league games are flexible so he batted twice an inning for 5 innings) and hit for the cycle yesterday in just five at-bats.
Obviously, him hitting is important but he still needs time to get to 100%. He played the field for 7 innings yesterday which is just as important as getting time at the plate.
There are still six days until Opening Day and unfortunately, there is no chance he will make the roster, but as long as everything goes well there is no way the Mets should make him rehab for the whole month of April on top of his two weeks playing in Spring Training.
Conforto openly said that he hopes he can convince the team’s Front Office he doesn’t need another 39 days of Spring Training.
Realistically he should be able to play in the Majors by April 13th. That will be 4 weeks of playing time which will allow him to get his timing at the plate and his stamina where it needs to be to compete at the All-Star level he did last season.
Regular Spring Training has only 4 and a half weeks of games on its schedule and in the first week of games players slowly ease in their way into action. Conforto is on track to be ready after 4 weeks of playing time even if the Mets build in off days to prevent him from doing too much too fast.
If his season debut is on April 13th like I am predicting he will only miss 12 games and that would be huge for the Mets. The latest Conforto should debut, as long as everything goes well in his Spring Training action, is April 20th, which would be five full weeks after his Spring Training debut and would leave plenty of room for off days to be built into his schedule.
Conforto has been openly saying he wants to beat the May 1st date but the Mets brass is not going to change their tune because they don’t want to mislead fans just in case he hits a snag in his rehab. It seems like he is 100% and just needs legit playing time.
The Mets do need to take things slow because he is going to be vital to the team’s success this season, however, they can’t hold him back too much. They have to be cautious but they can’t be overly cautious, if he is healthy, his timing is right, and he can play a full 9 innings in center field he has to be in the big leagues.
Like I said earlier he should be able to play by April 13th so keep your eyes out for him to shatter that May 1st date and come back in dominant form. The next week is crucial to determine whether or not I will be right about Conforto.
One thing is certain though when he is back, teams better watch out because this kid is legit and so are the Mets.