Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Michael Conforto hasn't been medically cleared to swing a bat, but he's got one in his apartment, anyway. "Just to hold," the Mets outfielder said.
"I can't swing it yet, but I just want to feel it in my hands."
That might not sound like much for a player keen on getting back to the workaday duties of his craft after left shoulder surgery. Or for the fan base that knows how desperately the Mets need Conforto next season. But it'll have to do for now, or at least until Conforto sees his surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, next week in Los Angeles.
Conforto, who was at Citi Field Wednesday to help the Mets with their annual coat drive, is hoping to have some clarity about his timetable after that exam. Mets GM Sandy Alderson said earlier this week at the GM Meetings that he doubted Conforto would be ready for Opening Day and Conforto, too, seems bent on caution.
"I think Sandy's more just trying to be careful about these things," Conforto said. "I think he doesn't want me to rush it. It was a serious injury. I think he wants me to take it slow and I'm going to do that.
"I don't want to hurt myself by jumping out there too early. But at the same time, if my body is ready, we'll let my body dictate what we're going to do. I guess the point is, I want to be ready as early as possible, but I want to be healthy before I do that."
Not exactly a vow to be ready for the St. Louis Cardinals on March 29 in the opener at Citi Field. But that's OK. Conforto is right when he says, "Would it be the worst thing in the world to miss the first few games or the first week? I don't think it would be the worst thing in the world, but I definitely want to be out there."
Conforto did offer several kernels of good news about his shoulder, though. He says he's had no setbacks and he detailed how his range-of-motion has blossomed through arduous rehab. His shoulders have never felt fitter.
Doctors, he said, told him he's unlikely get hurt in the same way again, so when he does start swinging, it won't be part-work, part-dread.
"It feels like it's not going anywhere," Conforto said of his repaired shoulder. "I think the doctors told me 99 percent only because they can't guarantee anything, but you really never see, after this surgery, the shoulder coming back out.
"It's just not something that goes through my mind. I haven't swung yet, but it doesn't feel that way."
And he doesn't believe he needs to make any mechanical changes to his swing to compensate for his shoulder. Good thing, too, considering that scouts and other baseball folks have described Conforto's cut using words such as "beautiful" and "gorgeous."
"I don't think it was a mechanical thing," Conforto said. "I think it was a prior injury that was the problem. I don't plan on changing anything.
"I think I was pretty effective with the swing I had."
Conforto, who will be 25 years old on March 1, used that swing to hit 27 homers and record a .939 OPS in 109 games last season. He made his first National League All-Star team, cementing his status as one of MLB's bright young stars. But he hurt his shoulder on a swing on Aug. 24 and his season came to an abrupt, painful end.
Now he's hoping he's moving beyond the "super-monotonous, super-boring" part of his recovery -- two hours of rehab, three or four times a week. Maybe next week doctors will tell him when he can actually use that bat in his apartment, not just hold it.
Conforto seems to know nothing is certain, though, which is probably why he's committed to caution.
"From how I'm feeling, I think it's going to be good stuff," Conforto said of his upcoming appointment. "But you never know."