Michael Conforto eager for Giants restart after missing 2022 MLB season

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Conforto eager for fresh start with Giants after lost '22 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Michael Conforto is a San Francisco Giant, and there's no place he'd rather be.

The All-Star outfielder made that much clear in his introductory Zoom call Tuesday from the Giants' Papago Park Complex in Scottsdale, Ariz., where he's working his way back from an April shoulder surgery in hopes of becoming a key contributor for the Giants in 2023.

"I'm going to do everything I can to get ready and to be that All-Star player that I've been" Conforto said. "I think I haven't scratched my potential yet ... I couldn't be happier to be with this organization to restart my career and re-establish myself as that guy."

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The Giants are a team that always has been on Conforto's radar, he added, and the feeling is mutual. San Francisco eyed the 29-year-old last offseason as a possible fit, but he didn't end up signing anywhere after injuring his right shoulder that January.

His ensuing surgery to repair the damage three months later left him sidelined for the entire 2022 MLB season, which would have been his eighth in the league. Now, he begins Year 8 in the Orange and Black after officially agreeing to terms on a two-year, $36 million contract on Friday.

"It's been hard," Conforto said. "You never want to miss an MLB season. It definitely wasn't an ideal situation. It was heartbreaking, a little bit, but it did give me a little perspective.

"It gave me a chance to take a step back and just kind of view my career as a whole ... I've been trying to take those silver linings where I can find them."

Conforto is making progress as spring training approaches -- a huge silver lining for the Giants, who emerged from the offseason's start with the outfielder among their most impactful additions. When his new contract first was reported last month, Conforto's agent Scott Boras had recently said the outfielder was throwing up to 120 feet and had full extension with his swing.

On Tuesday, Conforto revealed he's now throwing up to 200 feet and his swing feels as good as it has ever felt. He hasn't had any conversations with manager Gabe Kapler about which outfield position he'll play or where he'll hit in the lineup yet, as returning to full health is his main focus. If he can produce as he has in the past, with three 25-plus-homer seasons to his name during his seven seasons with the New York Mets, he might just make San Francisco fans forget about the team's roller-coaster offseason.

And Conforto is very familiar with the fanbase, he said, citing the Oracle Park atmosphere as one of the main reasons he wanted to join the Giants. The Seattle native grew up watching Tim Lincecum pitch for the University of Washington, and as an Oregon State alum, his college teammates had San Francisco games on regularly during the team's 2012 and 2014 World Series runs.

"It's always had roots for me," Conforto said of the organization, adding that he's happy to be back in the colors and No. 8 he wore at his college alma mater. "... By all standards and all people I've spoken to, just a world-class organization, an organization that really takes care of your family, obviously medically, and a very competitive organization.

"... Just from all angles, it was pretty clear for me."

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After finishing last season with a .500 record one year after recording the most wins in San Francisco history, the Giants are looking for a fresh start.

RELATED: Why Belt’s dozen years with Giants should be remembered fondly

And who better to embark upon that journey with than Conforto, who is eager for a restart of his own.

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