By J.P. Antonacci
Canadian Baseball Network
Marcus Stroman could get used to seeing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette in the lineup when he’s on the mound.
“I’m ready for Bo and Vladdy to be on the big-league roster, to be honest,” Stroman said of Toronto’s top prospects, whom the Blue Jays pitcher called “special” talents.
“I don’t think those guys should wait. I want them on my team,” Stroman said. “I think they can help us win.”
Playing shortstop and third base respectively, Bichette and Guerrero formed the left side of the Blue Jays infield when Stroman made his spring training debut on Saturday in Dunedin against the Canadian Junior National Team. Bichette led the way with three hits, including a home run, four RBI and a stolen base as the Jays squad beat the juniors 11-3.
The only blemish on Stroman’s otherwise spotless two innings of work was a five-pitch walk to Mississauga’s Noah Naylor. He struck out two.
With Russell Martin behind the plate, Stroman threw 28 pitches and didn’t seem to show any ill effects from the right shoulder inflammation that sidelined him earlier this spring. He mixed his pitches against the juniors, dipping into his arsenal of deceptive windups with a delayed leg kick against Naylor.
“My changeup was great, sinker was good, slider will come along over the next couple of starts,” Stroman said.
“My pitches are where they need to be. It’s more of just making sure my body and my arm is ready to go, and they feel great. Just looking forward to my next one, progressing over the next couple of weeks and getting into the real game against the Yankees.”
Stroman told reporters he expects to be ready to start the fourth game of Toronto’s season-opening series against New York.
“I would assume so,” said Stroman, who on Monday was ruled out as an option for Opening Day due to his shoulder.
“I wasn’t happy about that ... but it is what it is,” Stroman said.
“At this point now, I’m not upset with the decision. I respect and honour Gibby, our coaches and our front office, and they made a collective decision, and I’m cool with that. I’ll be ready to rock when my time comes.”