Yankees’ starting pitcher Marcus Stroman leave the game in the...

Yankees’ starting pitcher Marcus Stroman leave the game in the 2nd inning while struggling against the Philadelphia Phillies at MayCare Ballpark in Clearwater, FL on Sunday Feb. 25, 2024. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

CLEARWATER, Fla. — After a live batting practice session last week, Marcus Stroman talked about his primary goal early in spring training.

“I’m just trying to dial in my mechanics,” Stroman said.

That continues to be a work in progress for the Patchogue-Medford High School product.

Making his first start as a Yankee, Stroman, typically a strike-thrower in his career, battled long counts throughout his 2 1/3-inning outing in a split-squad. 4-0 loss to the Phillies on Sunday afternoon at BayCare Ballpark (the Yankees won their other split-squad contest, 12-6, over the Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field, where Juan Soto hit an opposite-field homer to left off the scoreboard).

Stroman, signed to a two-year, $37 million deal in January after Yoshinobu Yamamoto spurned the Yankees' $300 million offer to take a $325 million package from the Dodgers, is expected to slot into the club’s rotation behind Gerrit Cole and Carlos Rodon.

Sunday, the 32-year-old Stroman allowed three runs (two earned), four hits and a walk. The righthander threw 52 pitches, 31 of them strikes.

“I felt good in spurts today, it just wasn’t over the [52] pitches,” Stroman said. “I just need to increase my consistency in feeling good in my mechanics more often. I just feel like it was probably maybe around 25 to 30 pitches today out of the [52].”

During a 1-2-3, 16-pitch first inning in which Stroman recorded three flyouts, the pitcher seemed fidgety at times, often upon receiving the ball back from catcher Austin Wells, moving his right arm back and forth quickly as if searching for something. It was more of the same in a 23-pitch second inning.

“Pitching’s all feel,” said Stroman, who has a 3.65 ERA in his nine seasons as a big-leaguer. “It’s hard. It’s like little intricacies, timing, feel, being able to get to the point where I can try and replicate my delivery close to the same 100 times a game. It’s pretty hard to do. To the eye, it may look like it’s the same every time. But as pitchers, it’s something different that could be going on many times. So just getting that dialed in.”

Stroman, a sinkerball specialist who, when at his best, generally gets hitters to roll over on his pitches and beat them into the ground, recorded just one of his outs via grounder, a chopper to second by Kyle Schwarber.

“I think he got what he needed [from the outing],” said third-base coach Luis Rojas, managing the game in Clearwater with Aaron Boone managing back in Tampa.

Rojas, of course, is more familiar with Stroman than just about anyone with the Yankees and the organization picked his brain plenty before signing the righty. Rojas was the quality control coach with the Mets in 2019 when they acquired Stroman from the Blue Jays and managed the pitcher in Queens in 2021 (Stroman opted out of the COVID-19 shortened season).

“Hanging out in the dugout after he came out and he was talking to different people, resources, pitching coaches and people he’s been working with since he got here. He’s looking for that feel,” Rojas said. “As you can see, sometimes he finishes a pitch and it’s probably not where he wanted it and you can see he’s trying to find that touch. [He’s] a big feel guy and he’s looking for that.”

Stroman has no doubt that will come. Maybe not completely in the next start or even the one after that, but certainly by the time it really matters.

“I see that all coming together,” Stroman said. “At the end of the day, we’re trying to get right so that when we go out there [for] pitch 1 in the real season, when the games count, everything’s dialed in. So I feel like all the work done now is to get to that point. [Game] results don’t really matter in that sense, it’s getting to the point where we can feel good mechanically each and every game.”

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