Wary leader Michael Conforto: 2021 Mets ‘most talented team we’ve had’

Michael Conforto
Michael Conforto
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Conforto understands that David Wright and Daniel Murphy aren’t walking through the Mets’ clubhouse doors anytime soon as it’s slowly becoming his turn to step up as a leader of the team that he debuted with six years ago.

“Maybe it just kind of comes with being here,” he pondered on Tuesday from spring training at Port St. Lucie, FL. “A lot of the same people around, staff members, guys who I’ve come up with and have special relationships with… I’ve been blessed to be around some incredible leaders and learn from them… There’s an opening for that now so it’s been really cool to grow up a little bit in this organization.”

All the while, the 27-year-old right fielder has developed into one of the stars in Queens and now, one of the headlining members of an overhauled Mets team that is expected to make a lot of noise in the National League this season.

“I think we did a great job covering the areas, not to mention the new staff and front office as well,” Conforto said.

Those improvements were only made on paper, though, and Conforto is plenty aware that there is a bevy of pitfalls that await a team that gets too cozy with the idea of thinking that talent on paper alone will carry them to success in Major League Baseball.

“There’s been enough talk about what our expectations should be. I think the most important thing is that we go out there and work hard. We take it day-by-day,” he said. “It’s easy to see the talent that we have but I think it’s important that we don’t allow that talent to be our worst enemy.

“A lot of the times, talent can make you complacent. This group, with the leadership we have, that’s not going to happen.”

Conforto is hardly alone when it comes to talking about leaders around the Mets’ clubhouse. Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom is one of the most respected players in baseball, let alone in New York, while the newly-acquired superstar shortstop, Francisco Lindor, is also showing leadership qualities — according to Mets manager Luis Rojas. 

Lindor’s acquisition, alongside Carlos Carrasco, James McCann, and Trevor May has Conforto believing that “this is the most talented team we’ve had in a long time.”

But again, beware of the hazards. 

“There always seems to be this hype around our pitching staff or our young hitters and I’ve seen… you can fall into this mode of thinking that you’re better than you are.” he said. “You’re not good unless you win a lot of games. We haven’t done that yet and we look forward to doing that.”

Like Lindor on Monday, Conforto also confirmed that extension talks between him and the Mets have not started as of yet. 

“To be completely honest, I’ve been so focused on preparing myself for this season,” Conforto said. “I can’t lie and say I haven’t thought about it, but my focus, I’m trying to keep my focus on where it needs to be and that’s this team.”