Spring Training Notebooks

Cubs Spring Training Notebook: Marcus Stroman’s final tuneup and reflecting on Keegan Thompson’s outing

1 year agoAndy Martinez

St Notebook Sloan Image

MESA, Ariz. — Marcus Stroman is ready.

His outing Friday afternoon at Sloan Park showed that.

The righty, who will start Opening Day for the Cubs at Wrigley Field against the Brewers, pitched 5.2 innings on Friday, allowing 1 unearned run on 5 hits and a walk while striking out 5 against the Rangers.

“I felt like I got pretty good work in,” Stroman said. “Getting back obviously throwing [to] Yan [Gomes], who I think will probably be catching me Opening Day. We had a great feel. So just feel really confident going into Opening Day and this year.”

Stroman was away from the Cubs while he competed at the World Baseball Classic with Puerto Rico and Friday’s outing against Texas was his first one back and last one before Opening Day. It was a slight break from the bustling atmosphere at the WBC, but he knows a similar environment awaits him in a few short days at Wrigley Field.

“I’m excited,” Stroman said. “Obviously the energy at Wrigley is different. Opening Day is always a little bit more. So, I love those atmospheres. I love that energy. I’m excited. I’m excited to go out there and perform in front of that home crowd which I truly believe is the best in the league. Can’t wait to get around those fans and compete for them.”

He was the Cubs’ best starter last year when he returned after a bout with COVID-19 and a subsequent shoulder injury. As the Cubs embark on a season where they hope to be competing for a playoff spot, David Ross and the Cubs know Stroman can help get them off on the right foot.

“He’s a worker, man. You don’t have to worry about him,” Ross said earlier this week. “He’ll be ready.”

Thompson bounces back

There was some concern recently in camp with Keegan Thompson’s usage and velocity dip. He started spring on a “different program,” per Ross and, before Thursday, he had pitched in just 4 games and none of those outings were longer than an inning.

What a difference an outing makes.

Thompson pitched 2 innings on Thursday against Arizona, and he had some fastballs that sat around 92 mph. In his previous outings, Ross had noticed Thompson would look at the in-stadium radar. That wasn’t the case Thursday.

“I don’t want to make it all about velocity; it looked like he was trying less, right? Is less hard even a phrase I can say?” Ross said. “But there was a lot of free and easiness to his delivery yesterday, the execution with the secondaries.”

The underlying numbers and data the Cubs have suggested improvement, too. So, they believe the velocity will come and isn’t the be-all-end-all of his performances.

“We can point to velo cause that’s what we all get to see, and they put it on the board for everybody,” Ross said. “But we really look at the information and dive into there deep. There’s a lot of similarities, it’s just about making sure that he’s pulling the velocity from the right spots.”

Next Up

The Cubs travel to Tempe to take on the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium at 2:10 p.m. Lefty Roenis Elías will start for the Cubs.

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