Cubs News

For Marcus Stroman, brother Jayden, trip to St. Louis a special bonding, learning time

11 months agoAndy Martinez

ST. LOUIS — Jayden Stroman couldn’t wait to get back to his phone.

No, he wasn’t eager to check social media or text his friends. The younger brother of the Cubs’ star pitcher, Marcus, is a student of the game of baseball and when you have a lesson with one of the best defenders in the game, you’re ready to take notes so you can remember what you learned.

That was the case on Friday afternoon at Busch Stadium.

Jayden Stroman, a rising junior in high school, had just finished going through the gamut of a day in the life of a big-leaguer. It started with Marcus hitting grounders to Jayden with a fungo bat on the grassy area in foul territory on the third base side to start the day.

The real lesson, though, came after that.

Jayden and Marcus watched as one of the best in his craft went to work. Dansby Swanson, a shortstop like Jayden, went through his pregame routine, taking grounders at his position and then getting into a kneeling position to practice picking and scooping balls that were hit from close range from staff assistant Jonathan Mota. Swanson used a pancake glove to start, then transitioned to his game glove where he worked on backhands and front hands, perfecting scooping the ball.

Off to the side, the Stroman brothers sat with assistant hitting coach Juan “Pipi” Cabreja and watched as one of the game’s truly great defenders worked at his craft.

“I truly think Dansby’s one of the best shortstops in the game, if not the best defensive shortstop and when he’s clicking, best overall shortstop in the game,” Marcus Stroman said. “Dansby’s one of those guys, he’s so fundamental and he makes the most craziest plays look easy and he makes every single routine play. [Jayden’s] just out there learning [and] learning from the best.”

The weekend trip to St. Louis brought good vibes in the standings, but it also extended beyond that. The Cubs were allowed to bring a family member on the trip — “Boy’s Trip”, where many players and coaches brought their fathers or sons. Marcus Stroman chose his younger brother, who one day hopes to follow in his steps. The idea was first brought up in Spring Training by Jameson Taillon, who mentioned it to Ross in a veteran’s meeting, citing it as one of the better experiences of his career.

“It’s awesome, man,” Marcus said with a smile. “The schedule’s a lot, so I don’t really get the opportunity to see my brother play much or compete much. So, it’s awesome to just have him out here, kick it for a few days, bring him around and have some of the guys teaching him some things.”

Jayden is a two-way player, a shortstop and pitcher, and one of his goals for the year is “becoming a better defender.”

A lesson with Swanson will no doubt help that.

So, what did Jayden take away?

“Today we were talking about wrist flick, cause I tend to like click my wrists. He was talking about staying super stiff with the glove hand to bring my wrist up,” Jayden said. “The other thing he said, if I’m going to take anything away, is just to always come for the ball with one hand.

“Those are the two things he taught me. And obviously he knows what he’s talking about. He’s the best of the best.”

It’s a simple lesson, but one that Swanson abides by.

“If you watch consistently good infielders throughout time, they don’t have floppy wrists when they catch the ball just cause it kinda takes your glove out of position to consistently pocket a ball,” Swanson said. “You keep your wrists strong, don’t break your wrist, that allows for the pocket to scoop up the ball.”

This weekend was “honestly probably like highlight of the year” for Jayden Stroman. That’s why Marcus wanted him here. Jayden hopes to one day be a big leaguer and Marcus remembers the impact learning from veterans early on his career had on him.

“Even when I was a young guy in the big leagues, I just tried to take in as much information as possible,” Marcus said. “I wish I woulda had the opportunity in my life to speak to some of the big leaguers and really learn … It’s such valuable information at a such young age.”

Jayden is committed to Duke University, where his brother shined before being drafted by Toronto. So, does the 6-foot Jayden have a chance to have a better big-league career than his older brother?

“I hope, man,” Marcus said. “I hope I can just be sitting back watching this guy play. I told him it’s not gonna be easy, though.”

Who knows, maybe in 10 years it could be Jayden returning the favor and taking Marcus on a major-league road trip.

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