Marcus Stroman draws crowd with first Cubs bullpen session: ‘My arm’s ready to go’

The Cubs signed Stroman on the eve of the MLB lockout.

SHARE Marcus Stroman draws crowd with first Cubs bullpen session: ‘My arm’s ready to go’
Marcus Stroman talks to the media after his first Cubs bullpen at their spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona.

Marcus Stroman talks to the media after his first Cubs bullpen at their spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona.

Maddie Lee/Sun-Times

MESA, Ariz. — During new Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman’s bullpen session Saturday, pitching coach Tommy Hottovy turned around to see a couple of minor-leaguers standing off to the side.

‘‘I’m his biggest fan,’’ pitcher Aneuris Rosario told him.

‘‘Come watch,’’ Hottovy said.

Stroman’s first session drew an audience of players and media members at the Cubs’ spring-training facility. New teammate Yan Gomes caught him. Both signed with the Cubs on the eve of the Major League Baseball lockout in December.

‘‘Before [the lockout], I tried to talk the tough game about, ‘Oh, if it’s not there, I’ll wait,’ ’’ Gomes said ‘‘ . . . Things got settled, so guys are starting to sign, but I’m not sure I would have handled it very well.’’

For Gomes and Stroman, getting deals done before the lockout gave them the option to report to camp as soon as the work stoppage ended. Both came to the Sloan Park complex Friday and Saturday, before the official reporting date Sunday.

Stroman threw 37 pitches, but he said he has been throwing 50-plus-pitch sessions leading up to the start of spring training.

‘‘My arm’s ready to go,’’ he said.

Stroman estimates that with four starts in this condensed spring training, he can build up to five or six innings before Opening Day.

‘‘The athleticism is insane, just how well he moves and how in tune he is with his body in everything he does,’’ Hottovy said. ‘‘So really fun first bullpen and interaction there. Obviously really excited about bringing him on board and getting to see what we can do in the next couple of years.’’

Hottovy said he texted Stroman when the Cubs signed him, before the lockout cut off communication between coaches and players. But the Cubs executed the deal so close to the expiration of the last collective-bargaining agreement and Stroman got on a flight so soon after his signing that they didn’t get to talk.

‘‘Fun to finally get to see guys in person after watching so much video over the winter,’’ Hottovy said with a chuckle.

That started Friday — for Hottovy and Gomes — when right-hander Kyle Hendricks threw a bullpen session. Gomes has faced Hendricks and Stroman as a hitter, but it’s different working with them.

‘‘The baseball stuff for me is the last thing because we’ve gotten to see guys from the other side,’’ Gomes said. ‘‘So it’s really just trying to get to know the guy personally, see what clicks for him and really learning how to talk.’’

The early stages of that process played out during Stroman’s session. On the first pitch, Stroman let Gomes know what to expect from his four-seam fastball — coming in at his catcher’s mask — and positioned him a little more on the edge of the plate.

Their get-to-know-you time will be condensed this spring, but they already have gotten several firsts out of the way before official workouts begin Monday.

‘‘First block of the year, baby!’’ Gomes said after dropping in front of a pitch in the dirt.

He pounded his chest protector with a smile: ‘‘First block of the year.’’

NOTE: Even though pitching coach Tommy Hottovy knew right-hander Codi Heuer — who had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Monday — wouldn’t be pitching for the Cubs this season, the 25-year-old reliever was one of the first players Hottovy texted when MLB lifted the lockout.

‘‘I told him, ‘Look, this is a bump in the road,’ ’’ Hottovy said. ‘‘He’s going to be a huge part of what we want to do here in the future, and he knows that. And then just reassuring [him] that a lot of us have been through it. There’s a lot of people that he can lean on through this process.’’

Hottovy had Tommy John surgery in 2008, three years before his major-league debut.

The Latest
“Huge, huge hit” was only offense White Sox needed in victory over Red Sox
The child was found under debris in a bedroom on King Drive Wednesday morning.
Upset that police were not moving in, one parent who rushed to the scene raised the idea of charging into the school with several other bystanders. “Let’s just rush in because the cops aren’t doing anything like they are supposed to,” he said.
A man was killed and another seriously hurt in a shooting Wednesday afternoon in the 5400 block of West Madison Street.
She pretends it didn’t happen and keeps insisting the siblings get together for holidays.