What motivates Marcus Stroman? Mindfulness, mental well-being, and an endless amount of outside interests. – Orange County Register

To understand what makes Chicago Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman great on the diamond, you have to understand his mindset.

There’s his conventional view of success: making at least 30 starts, which he’s accomplished four times in his Major League Baseball career. Stroman is proud of that number because it requires staying healthy and usually means diving deep into games.

But he never puts too much emphasis on each start – it’s more about the whole course, and it goes beyond what’s happening on the field.

Before and after each departure, Stroman, 30, reads “The Seven Spiritual Laws and Success” and “The Four Agreements,” keeping a copy of each in his backpack. They help Stroman clear and calm his mind, something just as important as the physical side of the game.

Stroman believes that the type of energy a person emits into the universe is increased tenfold. He is a deep thinker in search of enlightenment, and what drives him goes beyond his pitch line and personal distinctions. He likes to take care of his family and a small circle of trusted people. His son, Kai Zen, born in the offseason, gives him a new perspective.

From an early age, Stroman prepared for the challenges he might face. He credits his father, Earl, for raising him thick-skinned and telling him he must have had a chip on his shoulder, that whatever room he walked into, Stroman must have thought he was the man.

“I took that to heart every day after that,” Stroman told the Tribune. “I’m African American-Puerto Rican, fully tattooed, have a Duke degree – I understand the perception of how people look at me and judge me before I even open my mouth. I understand society. I understand how I will be perceived.

“I realize that if I say the sky is blue, someone is going to have a problem with that, so I’m at the point where I don’t care. I’m really happy, my family is healthy. I do everything I imagined in my life, so it’s always my priority.

Stroman’s demeanor and attitude resonated in the Cubs clubhouse despite only having four weeks to get to know his new teammates. Coaches and players were impressed with his work ethic during camp. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks loved Stroman’s mental approach and attitude.

“It’s really remarkable to see him come in and you can just feel it’s the same guy, in the same place, he’s very present, knows where he is. It’s really cool to watch,” Hendricks told the Tribune. “And you may or may not see it in a guy, he’s never in a rush. He is never in the wrong place. You can mentally say, very sure. It’s something he’s been working on a lot. »

Beyond leading by example, Stroman isn’t afraid to share his thoughts. Hendricks cited the importance of needing representation of a variety of personalities in a clubhouse.

“You can’t just get everyone to fill the same role, so it’s going to be huge, he’ll bring that out from the other guys by just being willing and comfortable that way,” Hendricks said. “He will bring more truth and more honesty to everyone, and I think that just builds cohesion and chemistry in the team.”

Individuality is generally not promoted in baseball. Stroman acknowledged that there’s a perception he’s not a team player because he’s pushing his mark.

“Really, if you look at it, to be the best teammate you have to be your best self first,” Stroman said. “I don’t think people understand that. For me to be the best teammate, I have to be my best mentally, emotionally and physically. It allows me to bring the most value to my teammates, it allows me to go out there and perform to the highest degree. It’s something I’ve always prioritized. »

Stroman’s interests are wide and varied.

His foundation, Height Doesn’t Measure Heart (HDMH), is a saying the 5-foot-7 Stroman repeated to himself to give him confidence when he was an undersized child. Stroman, who also launched an HDMH clothing line, is launching Shugo in mid-summer, describing it as a high-end luxury brand.

He launched a YouTube channel last month and is on TikTok, two ways to give people insight into his life and the work he does behind the scenes.

Stroman wants to connect with young people in a sport that desperately needs it.

“I’m a genuine soul who will always chase my dreams and I won’t let anything stop that,” Stroman said. “I protect my people at all costs and provide for my people. That’s why I work as much as I do.

Stroman still pursues his passions, including music. He has been featured on tracks with former Duke bandmate and rapper Mike Seander. Stroman is also writing a children’s book.

“People always say, ‘Oh, he’s overdoing it,’ but it’s actually the opposite because I can promise you there’s no one who works harder than me,” Stroman said. “It’s just that I also have interests that allow me to clear my mind. And when I have a clear mind, it allows me to be the best on the pitch.

“I don’t allow baseball to get overwhelming because when you allow baseball to get overwhelming it can be very exhausting and toxic.”

During his eight seasons in the big leagues, Stroman learned to prioritize mental health. He works with a mental coach and a mental strategist. He wants to be well-rounded and believes that happiness comes from within, which allows him to thrive in all other areas. Baseball does not define his life.

None of this means Stroman doesn’t care about winning or isn’t a fierce competitor. But athletes are human too, and there’s more than just what happens between the white lines.

“I’m someone who wakes up ready to live and I want to enjoy every day,” Stroman said. “Obviously there are going to be tough times. My rough patches are now much smaller than they were before which is a great feeling.

This philosophy would apparently contradict social networks and the toxicity that can come from Twitter, on which Stroman is regularly present with nearly 515,000 followers. He usually tweets daily and generously mutes and blocks people who bring negative energy.

Sometimes Stroman responds and responds, explaining that “sometimes you have to check people out” and move on.

“They wear blocks as badges of honor. It’s so comedic to me,” Stroman said. “If you get to a point in your life where you’re wearing a block as a badge of honor, you have to recalculate, you have to go back to the drawing board because I guarantee you’re not living a truly happy life.”

Stroman admits that early in his career, the things he read in his endorsements might have gotten to him. He used to get angry on the mound. Now Stroman says he’s calm. He sees negative comments telling him that he is terrible and can laugh about it because of his peace of mind. Living your dream puts everything into perspective “so no one can take that away. Nobody.”

Finding a way to let go and not care what other people think of him wasn’t easy. Stroman said it was a journey that began after he tore the ACL in his left knee in 2015. It was then that he started working with a mental coach and became interested in books. He understood what life means to him and learned to appreciate what makes him happy.

Stroman is still working on himself and expects it to be a constant, ongoing process. When he feels bad, he can schedule a call with his mental coach or a therapist to refocus.

“I think a lot of people overlook that, and that’s why you got a lot of people on Twitter yelling at me,” Stroman said. “If they were better at focusing on themselves, emptying their minds and focusing on their deeper selves and finding their true happiness in life, they won’t have that animosity or they won’t want to project everything. this insecurities about other people. Because when you do, you are alienating yourself.

When Stroman takes to the mound on Sunday for his Cubs debut, it will coincide with his first time at Wrigley. The historic site is the only baseball field in which he has yet to play. He has already felt the love and appreciation from the fans before throwing a pitch. Stroman started to get chills imagining the energy he will feel when he enters the field on Sunday.

“Everywhere I’ve been, no matter how I feel, people show up to watch me pitch and I love it,” Stroman said. “I like energy. I like pressure. I’m someone who has always performed well under pressure. It’s something that takes me to the next level.”

Many Cubs fans will wear Stroman’s jersey on Sunday for his debut. He moved up to No. 0 last season with the New York Mets and stayed there after signing a three-year, $71 million contract with the Cubs in the offseason which includes an opt-out after 2023. The number choice was deliberate and is a rarity. Stroman is one of 31 players to wear the number in major league history and is the first Cub to wear it.

Its connection to No. 0 is less about the number itself than about what the form represents – a continuous flow of life.

Or, as Stroman put it, “I like to have that vibe on my back.”

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