How Marcus Stroman calmed down before and during his Yankees debut

How Marcus Stroman calmed down before and during his Yankees debut

HOUSTON — Before Marcus Stroman put on his uniform for his first official start as a Yankee, he dressed more like one of the team’s diehards.

The Long Island native strolled the Bombers’ clubhouse in a sleeveless graphic tee featuring past pinstripers, gray Yankees basketball shorts, and a beanie commemorating the 2000 Subway Series. A fan of vintage sports attire, Stroman’s wardrobe had plenty of promising options for his Yankees debut at Minute Maid Park.

Yet Stroman’s clothes were not the most interesting items inside his locker as he settled into his seat and began to focus on Saturday’s game, a 5-3 win over the Astros that saw the righty avoid any earned runs over six innings and 101 pitches.

At one point before the outing, Stroman could be seen reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra. He called the pocket-sized self-help book “his Bible,” and he read it as a candle flickered in a spare stall to his right. An unusual sighting in a major league clubhouse, the wax permeated the room with the scent of grapefruit.

“It’s just the ambiance,” Stroman told the Daily News after the game. “If you’re ever at my house, there’s a candle in every room.”

Added locker mate Luke Weaver: “He’s one of one.”

Stroman, 32, said that he’s been lighting wicks before starts for a few years now. He feels that the pregame ritual, along with reading, lowers his heart rate.

“The biggest thing for me is staying as calm as possible,” he said. “Me and Luke were talking about it recently, just trying to be parasympathetic. So just trying to lower my heart rate, which is incredibly hard to do when you’re going out there and there’s a lot of adrenaline. So for me, I’m someone who pitches better parasympathetically, not someone who pitches better sympathetically. So I’m very conscious of that.”

Asked exactly what all that means, Stroman explained that he performs better with a lower heart rate.

“Some guys are good with their high heart rate,” he said. “I’m the opposite. I need to be calm. When I get excited, my mechanics, my fluidity, kind of take a toll.”

Earlier, in a group setting, Stroman said that an intentional focus on his breathing is another way that he regulates his heart rate.

That came in handy during the game, as a few errors, including one of his own, put Stroman in some jams.

A second-inning Oswaldo Cabrera throwing error, as well as a hit-by-pitch that José Abreu appeared to swing at, set the stage for a two-run double from Mauricio Dubón, which sailed over Juan Soto’s glove in right. Then, in the fifth, a Yordan Alvarez grounder sparked throwing errors from Anthony Volpe and Stroman. The Astros scored another run in the process.

“I thought he was so sharp,” Aaron Boone said of Stroman. “We’re probably a couple plays made from him throwing six shutout and then maybe even he goes deeper in the game. So I thought he was pinpoint. His misses were how we wanted them to be. I thought he was spot on.”

Stroman would have liked to have logged a few more outs, but he didn’t let the blunders bother him.

“I’m just big into breathing,” he said when asked how he shrugged the errors off. “Breathing is big for me always. So I’m always just focusing on my breath. I feel like lowering my heart rate in those situations when your heart rate is supposed to go the opposite way is very big for me, and something I key on a lot throughout the game. It’s just me finding my breath.”

Stroman admitted to feeling a “bunch of anxiety” before his first official start with the Yankees. He said he didn’t eat or sleep much, but his calming techniques helped him once he was between the lines.

He may need to rely on them again next week, as the New York native is slated to start the Yankees’ home opener on April 5.

He expects to experience similar feelings before that start, but he’s confident he’ll be alright.

“I know how to manage my breath and keep my emotions in check,” he said.

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