The New York Mets won’t likely see a Vespa in the outfield anytime soon, but they could witness the return of the slugger nicknamed Scooter in their lineup in centerfield by the end of this week.
Michael Conforto, a 25-year-old Seattle native and the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft, made the trip from Florida to New York on Sunday to be back with his teammates after being on the disabled list when the season began on March 29. Although he did see action in two games during spring training, he has been away from the team for more than a week trying to put the finishing touches on his rehabilitation from surgery that he had in September. Doctors had to repair a torn posterior capsule in his left shoulder.
According to Daniel Popper of the New York Daily News, manager Mickey Callaway commented on Conforto’s status Sunday after the Mets fell 5-1 at home to the St. Louis Cardinals. Callaway said that a return as early as Thursday is “possible.” The team begins a three-game series on the road against the Washington Nationals on Thursday, which is also the earliest day he would be allowed to return from the disabled list.
The Mets are optimistic that they will have no need to send Conforto to the minor leagues to finish his rehab. However, the squad has scheduled a simulated game for Monday before a home game against the Philadelphia Phillies. Conforto is expected to test out his bat against lefty Jason Vargas, who is also working himself back into playing shape after starting the season alongside Conforto on the disabled list.
Conforto finished last season with 27 home runs and 68 RBIs. Along with finishing second among all of his teammates in both of those categories while only playing in 109 games, he maintained a .279 batting average.
No matter the exact day of the return of the former two-time Pac-12 Baseball Player of the Year, he will be joining a group of outfielders with lively bats in the first three games of the season. During the first series of the season, both Brandon Nimmo and Juan Lagares have filled the starting role in centerfield. Nimmo was the leadoff batter in the season opener and finished that game with two hits, two runs, and a walk. During the next two games, Lagares accumulated five singles in nine at-bats.