BERGEN COUNTY, N.J.- Around 9:00 this morning, the New York Mets All-Star outfielder Michael Conforto was informed by manager Mickey Callaway that he would start the 2018 season on the disabled list. After a cautiously optimistic spring, Conforto, after having left (non-throwing) shoulder surgery on September 6, will remain in Port St. Lucie for a rehab stint. The Mets organization hopes that he will rejoin the team on or before May 1, 2018.
Mets fans thank you for the love and the well wishes. Can’t wait to see you all in 2018! #LGM
— Michael Conforto (@mconforto8) October 16, 2017
In the meantime, utility outfielder Brandon Nimmo has been preparing for this opportunity for, seemingly, his entire life. On December 7, 2018, at the Italian American Baseball Family’s annual dinner, Nimmo told me: “Obviously, we all want Conforto to be there, but, with injuries you never know and so I’m just trying to be ready and to be healthy, as well”. With opening day being just four days away, Nimmo is healthy and has made the cut. Certainly in Finding Nimmo, the Mets’ probability of being shark bait in Conforto’s absence will be lessened until he is able to return to his home reef: the Citi Field outfield.
Nimmo has played in 101 regular season games for the Mets (32 in 2016 and 69 in 2017). His versatility in the outfield and at the plate has certainly helped in buying him playing time. “Its been really influential in my career because [my versatility has] just given me opportunities. It’s part of the game: injuries happen. Because I’m versatile, I’ll be able to go and fill in in a few different positions. It’s given me the opportunity to go in and prove ‘hey, I can be here on a regular basis.”
Approximately one year ago, he played well for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic before being sidelined due to a hamstring injury. Nimmo hit .308 with a home run and two runs batted in. He told me playing for Team Italy was “an absolute blast” and that “[he] was really proud to put on that uniform”. Nimmo added that his “great grandma and [his] grandma would have absolutely loved it if they could have been there” to see him play.
FINAL: #Mets 4 – Miami 3
— New York Mets (@Mets) March 25, 2018
With the Mets defeating the Miami Marlins in their final spring training game today, Nimmo has finished near the top of the pack of Mets hitters. On-base plus slugging percentage “adds on-base percentage and slugging percentage to get one number that unites the two. It’s meant to combine how well a hitter can reach base, with how well he can hit for average and for power. As a result, OPS is widely considered one of the best evaluative tools for hitters.” Nimmo’s 2018 Spring Training OPS is quite high: .984. He ranks among Mets starters ranks 4th on the Mets (behind Dominic Smith, Yoenis Cespedes, and Travis D’Arnaud) and 286th in the entire league. Also this spring training, Nimmo boasts a 1.000 fielding percentage in left field and in right field. He has one error in center field, resulting in a .960 fielding percentage.
With the 2018 campaign set to open in four days, Nimmo, according to the New York Mets’ official depth chart, is the next man up, regardless of outfield position. For now, like Nemo, Nimmo has a familiar address to re-memorize, that of Citi Field: 123-01 Roosevelt Ave., Queens, New York, 11368. If I may: in the Mets’ 3rd series of the season, he is hoping to make the trip back to Florida to reunite with Marlin… I mean, the Miami Marlins!
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