Michael Conforto ‘couldn’t be happier’ to be a San Francisco Giant
After missing the 2022 season while recovering from shoulder surgery, new San Francisco Giants outfielder Michael Conforto is excited for a fresh start in the Bay Area.
Conforto, who inked a two-year, $36 million deal (including a player option for 2024) with the Giants back on December 23rd, met with the media on Tuesday to talk about his road to recovery as he prepares for Spring Training.
“Everything is going great right now. I’m actually at the new complex in Scottsdale,” Conforto said via Zoom when asked how his recovery process is going.
“As far as throwing goes, 200 feet is the farthest I’ve gone. No setbacks, knock on wood. The medical team is pleased with how everything is looking. I’ve been working out for about a year and a half. My legs are very fresh.”
The 29-year-old entered free agency in 2021 after playing seven seasons with the New York Mets, where he made an All-Star team in 2017 and appeared in the 2015 World Series against the Kansas City Royals.
Conforto’s best seasons with the Mets took place from 2017 through 2019, when he mashed 88 home runs and drove in 242 RBI while batting .256 with an .856 OPS. During those three seasons, Conforto averaged 29 home runs and 81 RBI per season as a key piece of New York’s lineup.
During the 60-game COVID season in 2020, Conforto batted .322 while hitting nine homers and driving in 31 runs over 54 games, but the Seattle native struggled in 2021–in a contract year, nonetheless.
Conforto batted a career-low .232 in 2021 and hit just 14 home runs as his on-base percentage and OPS shrunk to their lowest marks since 2016 when the outfielder was still coming onto the MLB scene. Following the season, Conforto and his agent–super-agent Scott Boras–waited out the market as they hoped to obtain a sizable offer, but that never came.
Instead, Conforto opened up Spring Training 2022 without a home, which continued into the season before he had right shoulder surgery in late April. Between free agency and surgery, Conforto was going to miss an entire baseball season–something that he said was hard to deal with over the past year.
“It’s been hard. You never want to miss an entire season. It was heartbreaking a little bit, but it gave me some perspective and a chance to step back and view my career as a whole,” Conforto said of missing the 2022 season.
“I’m going to do everything I can to be that All-Star player that I have been. I couldn’t be happier to be with this organization, I’m very excited. Hopefully, I’ll be ready for Opening Day. That’s where the progression is taking me, but we’re going to take it a day at a time.”
As for where Conforto–who will don the number eight on his jersey for the Giants–will fit into manager Gabe Kapler’s lineup, the new outfielder said that he has not had conversations with Kapler about where he will play in the outfield or be slotted in the batting order.
“Really, to me, I’ll fit in anywhere. Left, right, it doesn’t really matter to me. I have briefly spoken to [Kapler], but we haven’t gotten into any of that.”
Over 696 career appearances, Conforto has logged 334 games in right field, 259 in left field, and 146 in center field, meaning that Kapler can feel confident placing him in either corner spot or even center field if need be.
Conforto said that he is thrilled to be a Giant, and a huge reason for that is the 2010’s championship dynasty that included World Series runs in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
“I grew up watching Buster [Posey], Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum,” Conforto said. “It’s good to be in the black and orange.”