PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Considering how substantial a role Michael Conforto played for the Mets last summer, and how much he comports himself like a veteran, it is worth noting the outfielder is about to enter his first big league camp. Not yet two years removed from college, Conforto still has much to learn.
"I want to be a more complete player, a smarter player," he said on Wednesday, after reporting a week early to Mets camp. "Hanging around these guys, it's going to help me do that."
In particular, Conforto cites teammate Curtis Granderson as a valued resource in his adjustment to the big leagues -- and despite all of Conforto's successes last season, including three home runs in just 34 postseason plate appearances, there is much to which he still must adjust. This offseason for example, Conforto worked on his plate coverage and situational approaches as a hitter, his comfort against left-handed pitching and his defensive abilities in right field. Though Conforto projects as the starter in left field heading into the season, the team's crowded outfield could force him to right every now and again.
"Obviously I'm going to get the chance to work on that this Spring Training," Conforto said. "That was one of the things I worked on when I was back home, just making sure I got reps from both sides in the outfield and feeling comfortable. I haven't played [right] in an actual game since freshman year of college, but that's what Spring Training is for."
While the Mets have no true position battles this spring, general manager Sandy Alderson did note the club has plenty of "playing time battles" heading into camp. Conforto is smack in the middle of one of them, needing to prove his worthiness of an everyday lineup spot -- not just a platoon job, like the one he held last season.
"I don't think the mindset changes," Conforto said. "I'm still working to earn a spot on the team. I just want to keep that hungry attitude that I had last year. I don't see why it would change."
There is, however, one noticeable change for Conforto heading into 2016. Unlike teammate Steven Matz, a prime National League Rookie of the Year Award candidate, Conforto spent his rookie eligibility last season. Had he not done so, Conforto would have stood alongside Matz as one of the league's top candidates for that award.
"It's tough to be bummed about having too many big league at-bats," Conforto said, laughing. "I don't want to say that. It is what it is and I wouldn't trade anything from my experience last year."