Marcus Stroman was supposed to just throw a live bullpen session on Tuesday afternoon. Instead, he campaigned and got the OK to start the Mets’ home spring training opener where he pitched two innings of perfect ball, striking out two on 30 pitches (22 strikes).
“I kinda told myself to dial it back to pitch to 70, 75%,” Stroman said. “I have nothing to prove at this point so this is truly a time to develop. Make sure your body is good, your mind is good… so when we get to the regular season, we’re straight in every capacity.”
It was his first competitive outing for the Mets since last year’s spring training after a torn calf muscle held him out of summer camp before he decided to opt-out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I feel great,” Stroman said. “Just honestly super blessed and super grateful to be in the situation I’m in… I’m in a great place to go out and perform well.”
After a 10-pitch first inning, Stroman got Jason Castro looking for the first out of the second before ending his day with a strikeout of Bryan De La Cruz, also looking, on a full count in an 11-pitch at-bat.
Stroman hopped off the mound in delight at the end of his day’s work that was backstopped by James McCann, the marquee free-agent signing who also made his spring-training debut on Tuesday.
The right-hander estimated that seven or eight of those 30 pitches he threw was a new split-changeup that he’s worked on throughout the offseason that delivered promising results, along with delayed deliveries to try and mess with an opposing hitter’s timing.
“I have a bunch of weapons that will slowly get put into play,” Stroman said. “I think I can out-stuff guys with no deception but I work extremely hard to… work on my stability and my timing… I definitely will be using and implementing new deliveries.”
As for that split-change?
“I love it,” he said. “That’s a new pitch for me and I’m still getting comfortable with it. But to see the results, it’s extremely encouraging… To have that weapon in my back pocket… it feels really good. It’s something I worked incredibly hard on this offseason.”