The days of Michael Conforto being shielded from left-handed pitching seem long gone — about as far in the past as the thought of him as a fourth outfielder.
The Mets’ best hitter continued his progression against southpaws Friday night, homering in the seventh inning to help Terry Collins’ team snap a seven-game skid and blank the Angels 3-0 at Citi Field in the opener of a six-game home stand.
“He’s not trying to pull the ball,” Collins said. “What Michael Conforto is doing is exactly what he was doing when he first got here. He hit the ball all over the field. That’s what got him to the big leagues.”
While Conforto, as expected, is still hitting right-handed pitchers significantly better — .333 compared to .277 with more power — he’s improving against lefties.
On Wednesday, he hit a two-run homer off Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin, and Friday, he blasted an opposite-field shot against Angels reliever Jose Alvarez. He has gone deep three times against southpaws in just 18 opportunities, and now has a team-high 11 home runs, one shy of the career-high 12 he hit a year ago.
“I’m definitely confident this year,” Conforto said. “I look forward to getting more opportunities against them, and hopefully [will] continue to get better and better against them.
“I just think I’m not missing those hanging sliders. I’m definitely ready for the fastball when it’s in the zone. You just got to make sure you stay off the pitches in the dirt. It’s going to help you a lot.”
The numbers are significantly better than he produced against lefties last season, when he had just a single extra-base hit in 48 at-bats and batted .104. Of course, he’s also getting more opportunities, learning how to hit them at the major league level, and he struggled against all pitchers a year ago.
“I think that’s definitely always going to help a hitter, seeing them on a more consistent basis,” Conforto said. “I’ve always felt…