After an impressive rookie campaign in which he hit .275 against right-handed pitchers, Michael Conforto will get his feet wet against major league left-handers in 2016. Speaking from Port St. Lucie on Wednesday, Conforto expressed a willingness to play a diverse role in the Mets' outfield this season.
"I haven't played in an actual game [in right field] since my freshman year of college. That's what spring training is for, and we're going to work on that stuff and make sure everything is good to go. I think I'm going to get some at-bats against lefties this spring training...if anything, I think it kind of balances me out a little bit. I'm just excited to get the opportunity this year."
As noted by Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Conforto showed up to spring training one week earlier than anticipated; surely a welcome sign for the 22-year-old. The jury is largely out on Conforto's aptitude against lefties—manager Terry Collins shielded the Oregon St. alum from southpaws in 2015, allowing Conforto just 14 regular season at-bats against lefties. Conforto's minor league stats aren't much more helpful, as he received just 51 at-bats against lefties in Double-A Binghamton last season before being called up.
With the retirement of Michael Cuddyer (who started 66 games in left field last season), Conforto could stand to play nearly every day with competent numbers against left-handed pitching. Curtis Granderson hit .183/.286/.558 against lefties in 2015, so he could get the occasional day off to give Conforto some reps.