MESA, Ariz. — Whether the Cubs got another face of the franchise when they signed Marcus Stroman to that three-year deal in November, they got a voice.
Quick with an engaging smile and a playful nature around teammates, the high-energy pitcher also is one of baseball’s most active, and at times outspoken, players on social media.
But love him or hate him — a wide spectrum well represented on his timelines — Stroman vowed this much on literally the first day he put on a Cubs uniform in the clubhouse:
“I’m gonna be authentic till the day I die,” he said.
Stroman, who retired all six Giants batters he faced, including three strikeouts, in his Cubs Cactus League debut Friday night, is a Long Island native who did not always have a smooth relationship with fans and media during his 27-month tenure with the Mets.
It’s hard to be sure how much of that had to do with a public exchange of words with Yankees officials and fans after re-signing with the Mets, a pandemic-created Zoom culture that may have skewed tone at times or simply the fact he’s willing to say what’s on his mind 280 characters at a time on Twitter — whether it’s calling the baseball commissioner “Manclown” during labor negotiations, calling out racism or simply sharing images of spring practice.
“I’ve always had a big personality, which can kind of come out the wrong way sometimes,” Stroman said. “But it’s authentic, and I’m someone who will always remain myself through anything, through any adversity. It’s who I am.”
The big personality has been on display since Stroman got to camp as things opened back up following the lockout.
“He’s got that ‘it’ factor when he walks in the room,” manager David Ross said. “He’s got that presence, the smile, the energy he brings already.”
Pitching coach Tommy Hottovy said he noticed it Day 1, when Stroman threw his first bullpen session for the team Saturday.
“The minor league guys love him,” Hottovy said. “I turned around and a couple were there, and one of them was like [whispering], ‘He’s my favorite player.’
“ ‘Well, come watch,’ “ Hottovy told the young player. “Stroman’s got a really good way about him. He’s very personable. He’s very open and inviting for guys.”
So where does the discrepancy of opinions come from since the former Duke ace and first-round draft pick was traded from the Blue Jays to the Mets in 2019
Stroman suggested some of it might be the difference between knowing him face-to-face and “knowing” him through Zoom sessions and Twitter.
Maybe some of it’s inevitable when you’re as active on social media as he is.
“Those thoughts are my thoughts. I mean everything I put out there on social media,” he said. “But at the end of the day, if we’re talking face-to-face, a lot of people have a different opinion of me. That’s something I feel like hasn’t been relayed too well between myself and fan bases in the past.”
Authentic, he said.
“I’m the same no matter what,” he added. “I’m a clubhouse guy. I love promoting good energy, being around good energy, keeping the vibes high. I think that’s what life’s about, not only sports.”
Just ask his teammates, he said.
And if you think you know who Marcus Stroman is based on the last few years — good, bad or otherwise — stay tuned over the next few seasons at Wrigley Field, where his Cubs home debut will also be his first start in the ballpark.
“I know who I am in my soul. I know who I am as a teammate,” he said. “I know everybody loves the energy I bring. And I can’t wait to play in front of this fan base because there’s nothing but energy in those stands at Wrigley.
“I think this is where I belong. I think I ended up here for a reason.”