Marcus Stroman efficient in first Cubs spring training start: ‘Good to get back out there’

Stroman faced hitters for the first time since last year in a Cactus League game against the Giants.

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Marcus Stroman took the mound in a Cubs jersey for the first time, starting against the Giants in a Cactus League game at Scottsdale Stadium.

Marcus Stroman took the mound in a Cubs jersey for the first time, starting against the Giants in a Cactus League game at Scottsdale Stadium. File photo.

Maddie Lee/Sun-Times

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Marcus Stroman’s Cubs spring-training debut came under the lights of a packed Scottsdale Stadium.

“It just feels good to get back out there,” Stroman said after throwing two hitless innings Friday against the Giants. “I feel like it’s been a while. It felt almost new. Just to be out there, throw strikes, compete, it definitely felt great.”

It wasn’t the Cubs’ first game of spring training. They played two seven-inning split-squad games against the White Sox on Thursday. But after playing a high percentage of minor-leaguers Thursday, the Cubs’ starting lineup was closer to one the Cubs could roll out at Wrigley Field.

Nico Hoerner started at shortstop, Frank Schwindel at first, Rafael Ortega in center field, Clint Frazier in left and Yan Gomes behind the plate.

And Stroman took the mound.

“That’s the first time I’ve seen hitters [since last season],” Stroman said. “Obviously I’ve thrown a ton of bullpens throughout the offseason. But competition’s always a little different. You never want to do too much when you get out there the first time. It’s kind of dialing it back more than it is ramping it up, especially with this quick buildup. So just to get my feet wet and to feel healthy, definitely was a good first one.”

Stroman retired the side in order in his first inning, inducing two groundouts to second base and striking out first baseman Wilmer Flores.

He was equally efficient the next inning, getting a flyout followed by a pair of strikeouts.

Starting pitchers will get about four starts in this condensed spring training to ramp up before Opening Day. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks threw two innings Thursday and said he was confident he could build up to five or six by the end of spring training.

“I think we’re great,” Stroman said last week of Cubs’ rotation. “Me, Hendricks, Wade [Miley], we can carry it. And then we have tremendous upside from the young guys. You just never know when some of these guys could turn it on and have their best career years.

“Baseball’s like that. You could put in a lot of work, you can find a new pitch, everything can kind of click. So, I’m looking forward to see these guys perform, and I’m here to help them along the way.”

On deck

The Cubs face the Padres on Saturday at Sloan Park. Left-hander Justin Steele is scheduled to start for the home team, with Reiss Knehr taking the mound for the Padres. First pitch is set for 3:05 p.m.

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