SEATTLE — Just call him the Homecoming King.
The description certainly fits Michael Conforto this weekend, in his return to native territory for the first time in a Mets uniform.
Conforto, who grew up in nearby Redmond, Wash., smashed two homers Friday night to continue a torrid stretch following the All-Star break: He entered play Saturday with seven homers in 15 games in the second half.
Conforto had joked before Friday’s game that Safeco Field looked much smaller now than when he played here in a high school showcase several years ago. Conforto then proceeded to make the ballpark look even smaller.
Conforto’s cheering section of about 30 friends and family members, in addition to a strong contingent of Mets fans, could be seen and heard throughout.
“The last time I was here on the field I was 16 years old and taking batting practice and wasn’t getting anywhere close to hitting balls out of this park,” Conforto said. “Now it feels a little smaller, so it definitely was surreal.
“For my family and friends to be here — I had so many friends in the center-field bar area just wearing me out, so that was fun. Just a fun game all the way around.”
After Conforto homered leading off the eighth to tie the game, Neil Walker’s RBI single off David Phelps scored the go-ahead run before Curtis Granderson stroked a run-scoring single for insurance in the Mets’ 7-5 victory.
The 24-year-old Conforto became the second-youngest Mets player to reach 20 homers before the end of July. David Wright was just 23 when he reached the plateau before the end of July for the Mets in 2006.
“I could hear [the crowd] and I saw some familiar faces around the dugout and behind home plate,” Conforto said. “Just people that have helped me along the way — coaches, teachers, people from my hometown — and that is kind of the coolest part of people coming to see me and support me. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Conforto became the first Mets player to have four multi-homer games in a season in the leadoff spot. And he entered play Saturday, when he went 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI in the Mets’ 3-2 loss, eighth in the NL with a .398 on-base percentage, seventh with a .586 slugging percentage and seventh with a .984 OPS.
Not bad for a kid who dreamed of playing for the Mariners.
“Being a kid from Seattle, I was absolutely hoping to play for my hometown team,” Conforto said.
Now he is the top player on the Mets, with the best probably yet to come.