Stro­man says he can do bet­ter for Blue Jays in 2017 sea­son

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY MELISSA COUTO

Mar­cus Stro­man wasn’t as con­sis­tent as he wanted to be in his first full sea­son in the ma­jor leagues last year.

So the Blue Jays right-han­der stream­lined his me­chan­ics in an ef­fort to turn things around.

“Me­chan­i­cally I got a lit­tle out of whack at some point and I just sim­pli­fied ev­ery­thing on my own,” he said on Mon­day, speak­ing to re­porters for the first time this spring. “That’s some­thing I’m go­ing to do this year, kind of in my de­liv­ery and my mo­tion, but I feel great.

“I’m ex­cited for what I’m go­ing to do.”

Stro­man was part of a Toronto ro­ta­tion that led the Amer­i­can League with a 3.64 earned-run av­er­age, a .236 bat­ting av­er­age against, and a ma­jor-league best 995 1/3 in­nings pitched last sea­son.

The 25-year-old ac­counted for 204 of those in­nings, mak­ing him the only Blue Jays starter to sur­pass 200 on the year. But while he showed dura­bil­ity, Stro­man’s num­bers weren’t so im­pres­sive: he fin­ished with a 9-10 record and 4.37 ERA through 32 starts.

This year he wants to do bet­ter. He took that goal into his off-sea­son train­ing.

“I take un­be­liev­able care of my body. I pride my­self on that,” Stro­man said. “(I’m) five-foot-seven, but that’s some­thing that I’m very con­fi­dent in is my body and what I’m able to do out there.

“I’m pretty sure I can go out there and throw 200, 220, 240 (in­nings), I feel like I can do that year-in, and year-out, that’s the goal, as well as be­ing dom­i­nat­ing each and ev­ery out­ing.”

Man­ager John Gib­bons showed an un­wa­ver­ing con­fi­dence in Stro­man when he chose him over veteran left­hander Fran­cisco Liri­ano to start the Amer­i­can League wild-card game against the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles last sea­son.

Stro­man went six in­nings that game, al­low­ing two runs and strik­ing out six in Toronto’s 5-2 vic­tory.

Gib­bons wasn’t too con­cerned with the peaks and val­leys of Stro­man’s 2016 cam­paign.

“The re­al­ity of the game at this level is you’re not go­ing to be good ev­ery time. You’re go­ing to get knocked down, es­pe­cially the young guys,” Gib­bons said. “He was in that stretch and there were peo­ple call­ing for him to be sent down (to the mi­nor leagues).

“We thought he was go­ing to work it out and he ended up hang­ing in there and turned the sea­son around at the end.”

It was two years ago that Stro­man’s spring train­ing was cut short by a knee in­jury that forced him to miss the first five months of the 2015 sea­son.

He put his re­hab on hold to be able to re­turn that Septem­ber and pitch into Toronto’s first post-sea­son since 1993.

“Ev­ery­one for­gets I came back in five months from a full ACL surgery,” Stro­man said. “I had to stop my re­hab to come back and pitch for Septem­ber and the play­offs. I had to re-amp my re­hab and start it back up in the off-sea­son, so it’s not the ideal process you want to go through (for an) ACL re­hab. “This year, I feel 100 per cent.” Stro­man had an event­ful off­sea­son, win­ning his first salary ar­bi­tra­tion case to lock up a US$3.4 mil­lion salary for the up­com­ing sea­son.

Toronto had of­fered $3.1 mil­lion.

He also an­nounced that he’d be play­ing for the United States at the World Base­ball Clas­sic, which be­gins next month.

CP PHOTO

Toronto Blue Jays start­ing pitcher Mar­cus Stro­man catches a ball dur­ing base­ball spring train­ing in Dunedin, Fla., on Mon­day.

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