Marcus Stroman had no idea how Yankees fans felt about his Opening Day decision

Marcus Stroman had no idea how Yankees fans felt about his Opening Day decision

TAMPA — Marcus Stroman, who has been the target of some fan backlash over the past week, said he is not aware that he has been the target of some fan backlash over the past week.

The Yankees starter is notably not the Opening Day starter after a meeting last week with general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone to discuss the possibility.

Each member of that sit-down has said Stroman could have received an honor that instead wound up going to Nestor Cortes, but Boone and Stroman have said they believed he should remain on his regular schedule, which has him pitching the third game of the season and the Yankees’ home opener.
Marcus Stroman didn't know how Yankees fans reacted to him turning down the Opening Day assignment.

Marcus Stroman didn’t know how Yankees fans reacted to him turning down the Opening Day assignment.Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post
Stroman said he would have juggled his schedule if the team wanted, but Yankees minds opted against it.

When the news traveled and was interpreted as Stroman declining a traditional baseball honor — one that he has received on three occasions — there was some criticism of the righty for not adjusting his schedule.

“There was?” Stroman said when informed. “I said my piece, I’m not on Twitter anymore. I’m not going to see a lot of reaction.

“But the last thing I can concern myself with is fan reaction at this point. I got to worry about my body, my mind, and I’m trying to bring my absolute best ability to this team each and every day. I’m focused on that.”

Stroman faced minor leaguers in a live batting practice session at Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday, during an off day for the club, and wore his full uniform.

He is devoted to a schedule and a plan that he hopes will keep him healthy, particularly after a mostly lost second half of last season with the Cubs due to hip and rib cage problems.

It is understandable that in the days after the Yankees learned about Gerrit Cole’s elbow issue, Stroman would be offered the Opening Day gig.

But Boone has said the offer was out of deference, wanting Stroman to at least have the choice.

Marcus Stroman pitching in a Yankees exhibition game on March 14, 2024.Marcus Stroman pitching in a Yankees exhibition game on March 14, 2024.Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

It is also understandable that the group would prefer to keep Stroman on his throwing schedule without interruption.

“I’m very process oriented — I think you have to be in order to have longevity, in order to pitch at a high level for a long time,” said Stroman, entering his 10th big-league season. “I think you have to have a routine. I’m one with my body. I know what it takes to get ready. I know how to prepare.

“I’m just looking forward to going out there and going 30-plus starts, that’s my goal.

Soon to begin the first season of a two-year, $37 million deal with his childhood favorite team, Stroman has pitched to a 3.68 ERA in a solid spring training.

His next and last outing is expected to be Sunday, which will lead into his Yankees debut March 30 in Houston.

And not two days earlier, which would have taken more schedule-bending than it took Cortes, who has baked one extra day into his rest to be ready for Opening Day.

“I would love to pitch Opening Day, but at this point in our schedule, to have everybody where they need to be going into season, it’s really hard to strategically put guys on five [days’ rest] and get guys what they need to do,” Stroman said. “When I sat down in there with [Cashman and Boone], I was like, ‘Hey, I’m ready for Opening Day if you need me. But also, if you guys want me to stay, I’ll stay, too. Whatever’s best for the team.’ And they ended up deciding to keep me where I’m at.”

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