TORONTO -- It can’t be ignored.
What Marcus Stroman has done on the mound for the Blue Jays this year has been the highlight of a pitching staff that is mired in injuries and inconsistencies. On Tuesday, the 28-year-old right-hander threw seven-plus solid innings in a 3-1 loss to the Angels, allowing three earned runs or fewer for the 13th time this year, pitching into the eighth frame for the second time.
But every successful outing adds fuel to the trade rumor fire surrounding Stroman, something he simply cannot ignore.
“It’s impossible not to be aware of it,” Stroman said. “I mean, I wake up and socials are blasted, there’s talk everywhere in the clubhouse, it’s kind of around 24/7 so I’m definitely aware of it. I’m in a really good place mentally where I’m really not bothered by any of it, kind of able to lock it in when I need to, and just been focusing on my mind a lot on and away from the field.”
If Tuesday’s outing is any indication, in which Stroman allowed three runs on four hits -- two of them solo homers -- with one walk and three strikeouts, the six-year veteran has learned to successfully block out all the outside noise.
“I’ve been through a lot,” he said. “I’ve been in the big leagues since ’14 now, and been through a couple arbitration processes. Your eyes just get opened as you grow through the game. You just start to understand things and how it moves. I don’t have any hard feelings. It’s just how it is, it’s a part of it. And I’m doing my best job to do everything in my power to stay in the moment; be here with my teammates, while kind of hearing everything else around it.”
Stroman reiterated Tuesday that he doesn’t believe a long-term contract with the only franchise he has ever known is in his immediate future, though he can’t say enough about the club or the city that has become his second home.
“It just comes with the business of it,” Stroman said. “I’m just starting to really, truly understand the business of baseball and the business of sports, so it’s out of my control. They’ve been throwing my name around in trade talks all the time, and it doesn’t seem like I’m going to be signed here to a long-term deal, so it’s just something that you kind of have to come to terms with.
“I love this team, I love Toronto, I love everything about the country and I’m going to continue to go out there each and every start and just compete, compete, compete; do everything I can to limit runs.”
Though there haven’t been any discussions between Stroman and the Blue Jays’ front office about the approaching Trade Deadline, he can’t help but hear what everyone else is hearing.
“I wake up to the same rumors y’all see, on the same social media platforms,” Stroman said. “So I’m doing my best part to just really stay in the moment and be here with the team. … It seems like everybody’s saying I’m not going to be [a Blue Jay after the Deadline], so I don’t know.
“I’m doing everything in my power to keep all of that out of my head. The more [time] I’m going to spend thinking about that, the more it’s going to take away from me on the field so I’m just trying to literally put that at the back of my head and not even think about it.”
After Tuesday’s matchup, Stroman expressed the sense of pride he holds for being one of the longest-tenured Blue Jays on the roster and in the organization and shared that he wouldn’t have things any other way.
“I’ve been here for a while, kind of seen the whole cycle, the ups, the downs and I love being a Blue Jay,” he said. “There’s no other team I would have traded to start my career, and the things that we’ve been through since I’ve been here. I feel like I embody the city of Toronto, and I kind of take that passion out there with me every fifth day.
“I can’t speak any more highly of the organization. I love pitching here, I never for one second have wanted out of the AL East. I love the challenges. I love pitching against the Yankees and Red Sox all the time. So we’ll see what happens. I’ve just got to keep that stuff out of my head.”
This season, the challenge for Stroman has been pitching without much run support. Ahead of Tuesday’s game, it appeared as though the hitters were finally turning things around for their Opening Day starter. Toronto scored 36 runs over his last five starts, compared to 22 total runs in his first 10 outings this season. But against the Angels, it couldn’t muster much of anything.
“Honestly it’s baseball,” Stroman said. “It’s something that I learned is part of it. We’re capable of putting up 10 on any given night, we just haven’t put those days together. And it’s just a matter of going out there and battling, just truly trying to keep my team in each and every game that I’m in, and just to go deep, that’s my goal.”