Michael Conforto flew to New York this evening to be evaluated further after tweaking his side over the weekend, reported Tim Healey of Newsday. He got an MRI in Florida, and the Mets saw fit to send him to Dr. David Altchek for further testing.
“Michael tweaked his his side catching a fly ball in the wind during a game a couple of days ago,” Brodie Van Wagenen said. “We will provide updates when we have more information.”
Van Wagenen did not specify the play on which Conforto injured himself, but he attempted to leap over the wall to rob Emilio Bonifacio of a home run on Saturday and hit the wall awkwardly. He was removed from that game in the sixth inning and has not played since.
This breaks the Mets’ streak of relatively good injury luck this spring, with J.D. Davis and Seth Lugo both back in action after missing time with a shoulder injury and a broken pinky toe, respectively. The severity of Conforto’s injury is unclear, but with Opening Day just about two and a half weeks away, any length of time he is sidelined makes it unlikely he’ll be ready come March 26.
The Mets can ill afford to lose one of their starting outfielders for any significant amount of time, given the dearth of options that exist behind them. As things stand, J.D. Davis is likely to get the majority of at-bats in left field—at least until Yoenis Cespedes is healthy. While Cespedes seems to be progressing well, he has only played in simulated games so far, which makes it seem unlikely he’ll be ready for Opening Day, although we could see him in the outfield sooner rather than later. Brandon Nimmo figures to be the starting center fielder, but he could slot over to a corner in Conforto’s absence with Jake Marisnick manning center.
Dominic Smith and Matt Adams have both been taking reps in the outfield this spring in an attempt to increase their utility, given the polar bear-sized block at first base. But, like Davis, neither of them are natural outfielders. Jeff McNeil has shown he can competently play the outfield as well and he may be an option the Mets turn to while Conforto recovers. There are not much in the way of reinforcements coming from the farm system in the outfield, so the Mets will mostly likely have to work with what they have on the major league roster.
Conforto has posted a .646 OPS with six hits, including a home run, one walk, two runs scored, and six strikeouts in 27 at-bats so far this spring.