Stroman says knee is 100 per cent, feels ready for “extremely large” workload

Stroman ready for "extremely large" workload

TORONTO — Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman’s plate is full, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

In addition to his daily workouts, Stroman’s clothing line continues to grow, and he has plans to launch a new fashion blog called “Fresh Beyond Spikes” in the coming weeks. Tack on preparation for the World Baseball Classic and the 2017 regular season, and Stroman is a pitcher on the go. 

“I’m someone who does much better with more on my plate than less on my plate,” he said Friday. “I’ve always been that way. Having other things to distract me helps lock me in when I have to be out on the mound.”

Stroman got the ball rolling on his HDMH (Height Doesn’t Measure Heart) plans in 2009 as a freshman at Duke University. The five-foot-eight native of Medford, N.Y., serves as creative designer for an apparel line that includes hoodies, T-shirts, tanktops and beanies.

The business is run by his family members out of his Long Island residence.

“I literally just went home and my house is now like a warehouse,” Stroman said. “I had to go home and buy a shed so we could put a bunch of boxes and stuff in the backyard. My family is loving it. They’re having a bunch of fun doing it. It’s fun, so it’s something that we’re going to continue to do. We have a great following.”

Fashion is a passion for the Blue Jays right-hander and could be something he takes to a higher level when his playing days are done. For now, the 25-year-old right-hander is locked in on getting ready for the upcoming season.

“First and foremost is bringing a championship to this city,” he said. “That always is (the case). Everything else is secondary.”

Stroman said he “ramped up” his workouts this off-season and it has paid off. He added that the left knee he had surgically repaired in March 2015 is back to 100 per cent.

“Having a stronger landing leg is a big deal,” Stroman said. “It’s going to allow me to do a lot of things. Velocity, go deeper into games, be more accurate. I take pride in my body and it’s at a point now where I see some huge strides this year.”

In 2015, Stroman returned to the mound six months after surgery to help the Blue Jays end a 22-year playoff drought. He was the Opening Day starter last year and worked over 200 innings in the regular season, posting a 9-10 record and 4.37 earned-run average over 32 starts. 

The resumption of his knee rehabilitation was a priority after the 2015 campaign came to an end. His off-season gym work has left his entire body feeling stronger.

“I’ll be ready to take on an extremely large workload,” he said. “In every facet, I’ll be ready.”

Stroman was joined by teammates Ryan Goins and Steve Pearce on the latest stop of the Blue Jays’ Winter Tour on Friday. The team also unveiled a new alternate red jersey, which will be worn at every Sunday home game this season and select dates in July.

The return of slugger Jose Bautista was also a talking point during a half-hour media availability at Rogers Centre. The veteran right-fielder tested the free agent market before signing a one-year contract with the Blue Jays this week.

“He’s taught me a lot about baseball on and off the field,” Stroman said. “He kind of took me under his wing. I remember one of my first starts in the big leagues, I remember him coming over and talking to me about tempo, talking about pitch selection. I’m always picking his brain about what to throw (to) guys. He’s the first guy that I go to because I feel like he has the best strike zone judgment out of anyone in the big leagues.

“He’s done it for a number of years. I’m extremely happy to have Jose back. That’s my guy right there.”

The Blue Jays are coming off a second straight appearance in the American League Championship Series. Toronto was 89-73 last season and is expected to contend again this year.

“Obviously getting back to where we were at last year and going further, I think that’s the goal and the mindset of everyone in the clubhouse,” Stroman said. “We’re not satisfied with where we were at. We want to go further, I think that’s the mentality. Just taking that into spring training and competing.”

Notes: Stroman, who earned US$515,900 in 2016, said he’ll be going to arbitration with the Blue Jays. Toronto offered $3.1 million while Stroman’s figure was $3.4 million. … Stroman was also asked about online buzz that he and teammate Aaron Sanchez weren’t as tight as in the past. “We’re not as close, but we’re still friends,” he said. “I know everyone is speculating here and there. We’re still good.” … Bautista is scheduled to appear at a media availability Saturday at Rogers Centre. … The team’s Winter Tour made stops in Edmonton and Regina this month. … Spring training begins Feb. 14 at Dunedin, Fla.

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press