By Ed Coleman
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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Michael Conforto is getting antsy, as you might expect.
The Mets center fielder’s timetable to return remains fluid, and there is still a May 1 target date that he hopes to beat but that also could be pushed back depending on his progress.
You can see him most days shagging balls in the outfield, and recently he started swinging a bat, a major milestone. He began with dry swings in late January and moved up to hitting off a tee just a few days ago.
“Everything we’ve done to this moment has been getting to work the way that I want to,” Conforto said Tuesday. It’s not just feel good enough to take one swing, it’s so that I can make adjustments if I need to.”
Conforto has swung a bat for two days in a row, so he will take a break Wednesday.
With one big, ugly swing against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 24 at Citi Field, Conforto collapsed in the batter’s box, tearing the posterior capsule in his left shoulder. It was not a common injury, and he had to go through a lot of tedious work to get to this point.
“I want to be out on the field with my teammates, give us the best chance to win and be the player that I am,” he said. “It’s all worth it.”
Conforto said he likes this year’s team — the returnees and the new additions.
“There’s a lot of energy,” he said. “They’re all excited. They’re bringing energy. We have a lot of wisdom in the clubhouse. I’m excited to pick their brains, see their points of view on the game. Everything feels good from my end.”
Is Conforto concerned at all about whether he can come back from such a serious injury?
“It’s adversity, something you have to overcome,” he said. “The year before, 2016, I struggled a little bit. I took it the same way, another rock in the path and you just have to push through it. I don’t have any hesitation at all.”
And how convinced is he that the injury will not reoccur?
“Dr. (David) Altchek told me to get the surgery,” Conforto said. “It’s like a 99 percent chance that it (the shoulder) won’t come back out. He said if I didn’t have the surgery there’s really no telling when it might happen again. And once it comes out, if you don’t get it fixed, it’s much looser. Those structures don’t tighten back up.”
Conforto is looking forward to manning center field, and playing alongside Jay Bruce once again.
“I’m excited. It’s definitely a lot of fun out there,” he said. “I enjoy it. I feel comfortable. I understand I’m not Billy Hamilton, but I think I get good jumps on the ball, I have a quick first step, if I make my reads and really work on it, which I have, I can be more than able to fill that position.
“As for Jay, he’s a great clubhouse guy, a great bat and right fielder. All good things.”
It’s taking time, more than Conforto cares for. But he’s attempting to be patient, with some help from the medical staff.
“They’re helping me understand that I’ve got be the player that I was, and that I know I am going to be again,” he said. “And that comes from doing things the right way and going through the progressions.”