News of Marcus Stroman‘s injury hit like a fist to the stomach. Media members with the Blue Jays at spring training were told that the club would be making an announcement shortly, setting Twitter abuzz with hope of a signing or trade. Instead, the Blue Jays had lost their opening day starter for the season. Marcus Stroman disagreed.
The return shall be legendary.
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) March 12, 2015
This tweet from two days after the injury should be framed, but at the time, it was little more than athlete speak. We’re constantly bombarded by professional athletes who take to social media with their workout regiments, constantly “grinding” and in “the best shape of their lives”. Stroman is different.
Professional sports can also be filled with beige personalities, where “um” and “uh” dominate post game interviews. Which is fine, but the engaging Stroman has always appealed to me in an intellectual sense, which showed when he chose to return to Duke University and finish his degree over this summer. All the while: rehabbing. In early April, he told Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling that he was eyeing a late-September return.
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“Hey, a full six months from my surgery is September 19,” Stroman says. “If we’re in a playoff run at that point, I’m going to want to pitch. And I’m going to do everything in my power to put myself in a position to be there helping the team. I’ll fill any need the team has. I’ll start, I’ll relieve, I’ll do whatever. I’ll be ready to go.”
Stroman returned against the New York Yankees on September 12th. One week early.
The conversation has quickly swung from a bullpen-or-rotation debate to the point we’re at now: choosing Stroman to start over AL Cy Young candidate David Price in game five of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers. Legendary is a strong word, but later today, Stroman has an opportunity to write the first chapter.
Toronto Blue Jays fans have been starved for a true, homegrown superstar to emerge once again. We’re all familiar with the laundry list of names who have tried and failed, but looking around this roster, it’s got to be time.
Stroman also represents the finest parts of Toronto’s shift in “clubhouse chemistry”, which has allowed the fan base to experience a greater connection to the players than ever before. He represents this team, and represents the city just as proudly.
The energy in the Rogers Centre will only fuel Stroman in game five, and there’s reason to believe his spark plug personality could lend itself to big-game performances in years to come. The gravity of Stroman’s return admittedly becomes lost on some of us as we’ve come to expect the improbably, but it’s been a privilege to witness.
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