Mets fans may not be used to players returning from injury-related absences before they’re expected to, but it sure looks like Michael Conforto will be ready for major league action ahead of his original target of May 1. New York announced on Thursday that the 25-year-old slugger will start at designated hitter on Friday against the Cardinals, marking his 2018 Grapefruit League debut.
The news doesn’t come as a huge surprise given that Conforto has been slugging home runs and playing outfield in minor league games this week, but it is a great sign that he’ll be ready to play in regular season games much sooner than expected.
Conforto hit .279/.384/.555 with 27 home runs last year before the former first-round draft pick’s season ended suddenly when he injured his shoulder while swinging through a Robbie Ray fastball on August 24. The resulting torn posterior capsule required surgery that was supposed to keep Conforto out through the entire month of April, but it now seems possible that he’ll avoid the disabled list entirely.
If Conforto avoids further calamity, he ought to be a fixture in the Mets’ lineup all season long.