MLB pitcher Marcus Stohman watches his alma mater Patchogue-Medford play...

MLB pitcher Marcus Stohman watches his alma mater Patchogue-Medford play for the County Championship. Credit: Daniel De Mato

It's Friday night and Marcus Stroman is cold.

He's standing on the Patchogue-Medford football team's sideline at Stony Brook University's LaValle Stadium for the Suffolk I championship game against Lindenhurst.

It's a fitting place for a Medford product on this night. It's not a particularly fitting place for a major league baseball player.

"I'm freezing," said the Toronto Blue Jays righthander, who went 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA in his rookie season. Stroman was dressed in layers with a hat, but the 30-degree temperature was enough to make his teeth chatter.

No matter. Stroman, who graduated from Patchogue-Medford High in 2009, said he wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.

"The possibility of going to a Long Island championship is pretty special," Stroman said.

Spoken like a true Long Islander.

Stroman's eyes suddenly shifted to the field as Patchogue-Medford quarterback Rich Ciufo broke a 20-yard run.

"That's my guy!" Stroman said with a smile.

Stroman had a particular interest in the game because he and Ciufo are longtime pals. The friendship stems from Stroman's father and Ciufo's father being best friends, Stroman said. "He's basically my little brother," Stroman said. "I've known him since he was in diapers."

Throughout the first half, conversations began similarly: "Hey, Marcus, it's so good to see you."

The greetings sometimes came from a former coach. Or a longtime friend. Or a high school rival.

He was stopped more than a dozen times and never turned down a conversation. He always smiled. Many times, he seemed very engaged.

"I'm happy to just be in a position where that exists," Stroman said when asked if being stopped ever bothers him.

What's the point of standing in the cold, entertaining conversations with people from the past, watching a high school football game on a Friday night? Why would a major-league pitcher do that?

For Stroman, it all serves as a reminder.

"This town, this school is what made me, what shaped the individual I am today," Stroman said. "This is where I grew up my entire life. I love being home and Pat-Med will be a part of me forever."

Stroman is staying with family in Medford until January -- when he will head for his home in Florida before spring training -- because, he said, it keeps him grounded.

"It's cliché," he said, "but it's important, really important, for me to stay humble and remember where I came from."

That's why he's working out at Infiniti Performance in Bellport. It's why he's working out with the guy who trained him since he was 14, Russell Taveras. It's why he was watching a high school football game in the bitter cold.

"People used to say that he'd forget about us once he got to the big leagues," said Ryan Bahnsen of Patchogue, a close friend of Stroman's. "But those are the people who never really knew him."

Stroman's chilly night ended with his alma mater suffering a season-ending 30-27 loss.

"I'm proud of these guys and all that they accomplished to be in the championship game," Stroman said. "They came on strong in the playoffs. And they played their hearts out in an exciting game."

Stroman said highlights from this past season included being called up to the majors, pitching at Yankee Stadium, facing Derek Jeter and throwing his first shutout in a three-hitter against the Cubs on Sept. 8.

And he's not satisfied.

"I want to be one of the best," Stroman said. "I wasn't supposed to be where I'm at, but I'm not content with just being average in the big leagues. I want to make All-Star Games, pitch in the playoffs and win a ring. It all pushes me."

To put himself in position to accomplish those goals, Stroman is keeping the things the same way they've been for years.

He said he will make it to Infiniti at 9 a.m. Monday. His workout will start with an intense warm-up that includes a hurdle series. Sled pulls, deadlifts and front squats likely will follow.

It's a similar routine to what he used to do when he starred on the mound for Patchogue-Medford.

"I'm the same guy," Stroman said. "And I hope to never change that."

With Gregg Sarra

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