TORONTO – Major League Baseball has selected ace Marcus Stroman as the Toronto Blue Jays representative for the all-star game in Cleveland next week.
The 28-year-old right-handed pitcher was called into manager Charlie Montoyo’s office and found out before the Blue Jays’ 7-6 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.
“I had a hunch because I don’t often get called into Charlie’s office,” said Stroman, who was aware the American and National League teams were to be revealed on Sunday. “It brought tears to my eyes.”
Stroman called his parents as well as a close circle of family and friends to deliver the news he would be going to Cleveland for the all-star game on July 9.
“It’s amazing,” Stroman added. “It’s definitely one of the bright spots in my career. To come from where I came from last year, probably the worst year I’ve had because of all the injuries, I made it a premium to do whatever I can to get back to where I was.”
Stroman has gone 5-9 with a 3.18 earned run average. But the statistic he’s most proud this season is the 104 2/3 innings pitched. It’s his annual goal to pitch 200-plus innings.
“I feel that if you pitch deep into games, everything else takes care of itself,” he said. “I’m not someone who goes out there and strikes out the world. I try to pitch deep into games to help my team win.”
Last year, after struggling through shoulder fatigue and blisters on this throwing hand, he was limited to 102 1/3 innings. His injury-shortened season motivated him to up his off-season training.
“I knew I wasn’t happy with last year,” he said. “I knew how much I went out there and battled the entire year. I knew I wasn’t at 100 per cent, and I knew people were going to assume that was the Marcus Stroman going forward.
“It bothered me a lot, angered me. I took that into the off-season and the weight room. I knew what I had to do to make it right, and I did it.”
Besides Stroman, the Blue Jays had two other possible candidates to play for the American League next week. Veteran stopper Ken Giles has piled up 12 saves for a weak Blue Jays team. Left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has been a different hitter since being promoted from the triple-A Buffalo Bisons on May 24.
Gurriel extended his hit streak to eight games on Sunday and has gone 46 for 132 with eight doubles, a triple and 14 homers in 33 games since his stint in Buffalo.
“(Stroman) was one of the guys mentioned who had a chance to make the all-star game,” Montoyo said. “Of course, Giles, in my opinion, should also go, and Gurriel was in the mix. But Stroman has been so good for us.
“Don’t go by his record because he’s pitched really good. Every time he pitches, he gives us a chance to win. Early on, he didn’t get much run support. But he kept us in every game.”
Stroman was asked if there was anybody, in particular, he was excited to meet in Cleveland.
“Everyone,” he answered. “It’s the best players in the game. I’ve been around a lot of those guys (when he played for Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic). It’s just an awesome time. You get a chance to pick the minds of the greatest in the game.
“With that level of talent, I’m just going to take it all in.”