Marcus Stroman, a diminutive pitcher, goes by the motto that height doesn’t measure heart. The latter always has been most important to him, and never more so than now. He has declared that, after a moment’s stunned review, home is where his heart is.
The Medford native and newest Mets pitcher acknowledged Monday during a conference call that he was involved in commotion in the Blue Jays' clubhouse Sunday after he was told he had been traded. But he insisted that it was about the shock of being dealt and disagreement with Blue Jays personnel over the handling of it. It was not, he said, disappointment over missing out on going to the Yankees.
“I’m excited to be a New York Met and I can’t wait to get there and be a part of it,” he told reporters from Toronto during a break from packing and preparing to meet the Mets in Chicago. “My family is excited, man. I’m going to be able to play baseball kind of in my backyard. They’re going to be able to come watch me pitch every game. I’ve been getting a huge outpouring from a lot of my family who’ve actually been huge Met fans from the start.”
If it truly was despair about being dealt to Queens, Stroman will not have been the first newcomer to express it. Keith Hernandez and Mike Piazza both were initially unhappy about being traded to the Mets and wound up being franchise icons.
And if he did unleash his feelings behind closed doors Sunday evening, that can be seen as a reflection of the passion that makes the 5-8 All-Star as appealing to the Mets front office as it did to Blue Jays fans. “It’s extremely authentic to who I am,” he said. “I only get to play once every five days, so it all gets to be let out.”
As far back as April 16, 2009, when he pitched a landmark high school game for Patchogue-Medford against Steven Matz and Ward Melville, there was a feeling among scouts that Stroman — as good as he was — just might not be big enough to make it in the big leagues. Stroman has been using that skepticism as fuel ever since.
He pitched his heart out that day against the lefthanded starter who is now his teammate. “It was a legendary game on Long Island when I pitched against Matz and I lost 1-0,” Stroman said Monday. “I just remember all the radar guns behind home plate. It was definitely a surreal feeling for me and I’m sure it was for Matz. To have that type of outpouring from MLB scouts on Long Island was pretty rare. To see that was pretty special.
“It’s going to be pretty crazy to join him on a staff, along with a bunch of other great arms. It could be possibly one of the best staffs in baseball, depending on what happens with this deadline,” he said.
“I played baseball literally with Steven Matz pretty much my whole upbringing, every travel team I was on when I was younger,” the 28-year-old righthander said, referring to six years with the Paveco Storm national-class squad. “We played the Area Code Games together, with Mike Trout.”
The newest Met said he has not been told when he will make his first start with the club. As for whether he will consider signing long-term: “I’m going to be completely honest with you. I haven’t even come close to thinking about that. I’m extremely excited to be a Met and my passion, my energy comes with me. Having that New York passion, that New York energy along with it, I can’t wait.”
On the topic of being completely honest, this is not a John Tavares-in-reverse deal. Stroman never had Mets bedsheets, although he tweeted a photo of himself as a toddler in a Mets jacket. “I didn’t actually grow up a Met fan, I grew up a New York fan. I used to go watch Mets games as well as Yankee games,” he said, but added, “I played at Shea Stadium with my travel team. My entire family is extremely excited and I can’t wait to get there and get going.”
Marcus Stroman’s interleague history against the Mets’ National League opponents:
Games W-L ERA WHIP
Arizona 2 1-1 4.61 1.244
Atlanta 2 2-0 0.71 1.263
Chicago 1 1-0 0.00 0.333
Cincinnati 1 1-0 3.00 0.833
Colorado 1 0-1 3.86 1.000
Los Angeles 1 0-0 2.57 1.429
Milwaukee 2 1-1 3.68 1.091
Philadelphia 3 2-0 1.00 0.828
Pittsburgh 2 0-1 1.04 0.692
San Diego 2 1-0 1.00 1.200
San Francisco 1 0-0 3.00 1.667
St. Louis 1 1-0 1.50 1.500