Oct. 8 Marcus Stroman pregame interview

MODERATOR: We're ready to get started in the interview room. Who's got the first question?

Q. Marcus, can you remember the last start in your life that had this much riding on it? Was there something at Duke or in high school that was kind of a momentous occasion?

MARCUS STROMAN: I mean, no. This is definitely the biggest start of my career hands down, but I'm ready for it, you know what I mean? This is why you play the game, I'm excited. I can't wait to get out there. This is the stuff you dream about, and this is kind of all the work that went in this past summer, it was for this moment, so I'm just excited to go out there and put my team in a position to win.

Q. Marcus, you already had an idea of what the city was going through right now, but when you were at that Leafs game last night, and the whole crowd started chanting, "let's go, Blue Jays," what was that experience like for you guys?

MARCUS STROMAN: It's been unreal, the love that we've been getting from Toronto, from all of Canada has been unbelievable. I feel like we feed off that energy that the country brings us and we're excited to get out there and kind of put the country in our back and play for an entire nation. So the boys couldn't be more hyped, excited to get going here.

Q. Marcus, we talked a lot over the last month about how improbable your return has been but from the start you were committed to coming back in September if the team was in the playoff race like this. When you go back to March and April, was there a time when you imagined this particular day pitching in the Postseason? And what was going through your head when you were thinking about this possibility?

MARCUS STROMAN: I think that was definitely in the back of my head. I didn't necessarily know that it would play out like it has played out but in the back of my head through all those workouts while I was in class was to get back because I knew the team that we had was extremely special and we would be able to go pretty deep into the playoffs so I made it a point of emphasis to get back to this team to be a part of something special and the fact that they were picking up new guys and winning all these guys, that only made me more motivated and hungry to get back. I'm just excited to be back and I cannot wait to get out there on the mound tomorrow.

Q. Do you think you can contain that excitement? You wear your heart on your sleeve, you're excited on the mound. Going out there in that atmosphere, do you think you'll have any nerve problems?

MARCUS STROMAN: No, I think I'm going to be all right, I think I'll be good. I feel like I do a good job of being able to bottle it up and use it kind of when I need to. Like you said, I'm very emotional kind of pitcher. Wear my heart on my sleeve, that's how I've always been. I pitch with a lot of hate and anger and emotion in my heart, it's just something that I've always kind of built myself on, and I'm just excited, I can't wait to get out there. I wish I could put it in words.

Q. Hate?

MARCUS STROMAN: Hate, yeah a lot of anger, a lot goes into it. I'm 5'8, a lot of people doubt me so that's with me every single pitch on the mound.

Q. Marcus, can you go back to the last time you faced the Texas Rangers in the middle of 2014. That was kind of that famous start where you introduced the sinker ball and all that. How did that change you as a pitcher?

MARCUS STROMAN: Incredibly. Just allowed me to go deep in the game. I used to be a guy who used to go four, five innings, a bunch of strikeouts, struggles to get to the 6, 7, 8th innings. Ever since I learned that sinker, it gave me a pitch that I'm be able to use to get early contact or roll a double play in certain situations, so it's a huge pitch for me. A pitch that allowed me to go seven, eight, nine innings, and I'm starting to feature it and it's starting to feel better and better the more I start to use it. That's kind of the thing I take at that way from that start. That was the first game that I actually threw the sinker in.

Q. This is nongame related. Texas this year drafted another Duke pitcher and I apologize for mispronouncing the name. I think it's Mutulla?

MARCUS STROMAN: Matuella.

Q. When you were back in Durham, did you do any rehab work with him and have you offered him any advice or encouragement during his rehab from his injury and surgery?

MARCUS STROMAN: I've actually been in contact with him. He wasn't there at Duke, but he was there for maybe a day or two. I actually saw him randomly in Toronto, and I've seen randomly in New York as well. We talk, we keep in contact, texting. Like you said, I definitely let him know, you know what I mean. Tommy John is such a part of the game now, so I let him know that he's going to be fine. He his going to back a hundred percent healthy, and I'm sure that he's going to be dominating at the big leagues soon.

Q. Marcus, you said you pitch with a lot of hate, anger and emotion inside. Does that go all the way back to your high school days on Long Island?

MARCUS STROMAN: Yeah, absolutely. Kind of found that it shows off the confidence that I have in myself and kind of something that my father kind of raised me on. He knew I wasn't going to be the biggest guy in the room, so he told me to play with a chip on my shoulder. Kind of don't worry about what others say, so I pitch with a lot of emotion in my heart and I feel like that's something that I need for me to be me. I do a good job of being able to bottle it up where it's not too much, but it's not too little. Buehrle is always trying to get me to do less but I'm always trying to tell him I need more to get me going. I'm just excited, man, and this is an unbelievable opportunity especially where I came from this past year. I'm just ecstatic just to be here, you know what I mean. Not just to be here, but I'm ready to go out there and compete and dominate.

Q. Marcus, the parallel storyline to your first playoff start is that Steven Matz, an old friend of yours, might be making a playoff appearance. What do you make of the fact that you were both able to rise to prominence and you'll both be pitching in these playoffs?

MARCUS STROMAN: Yeah, it's cool. I played with Steven Matz since I was probably eight or nine years old. He was on every single one of my travel teams all growing up. We had kind of had a -- not a falling out, we kind of went our separate ways and I couldn't explain my excitement for him, man. He's battled that injury since 2009, and just to see that he is back, healthy, contributing to a playoff team, it's special. And the fact that he's a hometown guy right by where I grew up makes it even better. His family's best friends with my family and couldn't be more proud of him.

Q. Marcus, considering you were away from competition for almost 12 months, what have you learned about yourself and your repertoire over the last four starts you got in September?

MARCUS STROMAN: I mean, I feel like I was in a good position. Like I said, I was throwing throughout the whole rehab process so I never felt like my pitches necessarily left me, I was spinning the ball throughout the summer even when I couldn't walk, spinning the ball, just keeping my grips, keeping everything kind of in tune, so once I knew my knee was ready, I knew that my stuff was going to be ready. I'm not scared to say it because I exhausted every opportunity and did everything in my power to get back to this team. I did, and it was not fun. A lot of it was not fun. I made the best situation out of it but I couldn't explain, I'll never have to go through anything as hard as that in my life. So I'm just excited to be here. We have an unbelievable group of guys, the camaraderie is unbelievable and I'm excited to get going.

Q. Marcus, you clearly relish the big stage and like challenging yourself. Is there nothing that throws you? Dentists, spiders, needles?

MARCUS STROMAN: I hate spiders. Yeah, there's a lot of things that throw me. I don't like outdoors, I'm a city guy. I have this talk with Buehrle all the time, I'm not a hunter, I don't like bugs. I call Aaron over if there's a single moth or spider or cockroach at our place in Florida. He's the one to kill it, not me. But yeah, as far as sports-wise I feel like I'm able to, you know what I mean, keep my emotions in check and use the limelight as kind of a way to get up. I love it, I love it. You know what I mean, this is what you dream of when you're a little kid and you're playing in the backyard, I'm playing in the playoffs. This is why you play the game. I couldn't be more excited. I'm not nervous. I'm not slightly nervous. I haven't pitched in nine days, I'm excited to get out there and get on the mound and get going.

Q. You mentioned Buehrle's name twice, and as much as I'm sure you would love to have had him on the Postseason roster, how important is it that he is in that dugout, he is there with you every day with the team?

MARCUS STROMAN: I can't put into words, it's extremely important to have him in the clubhouse. He's one of the most genuine, down-to-earth, humble guys I've probably ever come across in my life and I'm just happy to call him a friend and kind of excited that he's there to be a father figure on the team and that he's taken a liking to me. But yeah, he's not back there, it's for the video. But yeah, he's the man. Like you said, we have good talks all the time throughout the days and I'm a pretty excited person, so he's the complete opposite, so he lets me know when I kind of need to dial it back. Just having him there, man, just seeing him when I walk into the clubhouse it just gets everyone going and hopefully can get him back here in some capacity.

Q. Toronto's not too far away from where you grew up. How many friends, family are you going to have up here watching you tomorrow?

MARCUS STROMAN: Just my close-knit, core group, probably I think I'm having like 13 people come. Playoff tickets are pretty expensive. Yeah, my mom, obviously the essentials will be there and they couldn't be more excited. They're flying in, some get here late tomorrow and early tomorrow. To have them here in a playoff atmosphere, I'm excited to have them see the city. I wouldn't be here without any single person that will be in the stands tomorrow for me. I can truly say that. I was built by my parents and they kind of instilled this confidence and I'm essentially a product of them. So I can't wait to have them there and I love them and it means the world to me.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much for coming in, we'll wait for John Gibbons.