MLB News

How Giants OF Michael Conforto is using a lost year to get ready for a crucial 2023

How Giants OF Michael Conforto is using a lost year to get ready for a crucial 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — He just turned 30. He bats left-handed. He boasts a career 124 OPS+ — the same as Nolan Arenado and Rafael Devers — and he was a free agent this winter. By those measures, you’d expect a bidding war for a long-term centerpiece. But Michael Conforto was a special case.

The former New York Mets outfielder slumped in 2021, his original contract year, and didn’t play at all in 2022 after undergoing shoulder surgery. Then the San Francisco Giants signed him for two years and $36 million, with an opt-out after Year 1 that he can activate by batting 350 times and hopes that despite missing out on Aaron Judge and Carlos Correa, they signed a forceful focal point for their lineup anyway.

Early on, Conforto is providing reason for such hope. A full 17 months removed from his last action against major-league pitching, he has come out swinging in spring training. In seven games so far, Conforto has homered three times, posting an overall line of .263/.318/.737, striking out eight times and walking twice.

“It’s been impressive but not surprising,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said of Conforto’s fast start. “So you take some time off, you’re rehabbing from an injury — you don’t lose those things that make you so good.”

[Free bracket contests for both tourneys | Printable Men’s | Women’s]

And with the benefit of a longer memory, Conforto has been very good. Between 2017 and 2020, he ranked as one of the top 25 position players in the game by FanGraphs WAR and by pure hitting metrics, in league with winter headliners such as Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Trea Turner. In that span, Conforto batted .265, took plenty of walks and blasted 97 homers.

That is exactly the messaging Kapler has provided for Conforto as he gets back to normalcy.

“You need the physical build-up,” Kapler said. “But you remember how to do this, and if you just let your body take over, I think that’s an example of what’s happened with Michael. He’s healthy. So his natural athleticism is taking over, and he’s having success.”

Kapler, who missed the entire 2007 season in his own playing career and came back with one of his strongest offensive seasons, said Sunday that players sometimes need to break out of the mental grind. A year off, in theory, can be unintentionally helpful.

“Like Gabe says, it’s a useful reset,” Conforto said. “There’s some truth to that, for sure. You’re able to view everything from a different perspective not being…

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at MLB Baseball News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games…