Stroman excited for '17, new red Jays jerseys

Stroman excited for '17, new red Jays jerseys

TORONTO -- Entering his fourth season with the Blue Jays, Marcus Stroman feels stronger than ever before, especially regarding his surgically repaired left knee. The right-hander has spent the offseason working with therapist Nikki Huffman, who joined the Blue Jays from Stroman's alma mater Duke University, at the team's facility in Florida.

"My knee is 100 percent now. It's stronger than it's ever been, so I'm excited for this year and I'm extremely confident, too," Stroman said on Friday. "Having a stronger landing leg is a big deal, so it's going to allow me to do a lot of things: velocity, go deeper into games, be more accurate. I take pride in my body and it's at a point now where I've taken huge strides this year."

Now that Stroman is physically ready for the 2017 season, there's the matter of a contract. The 25-year-old says he's headed for arbitration with the Blue Jays, as the two sides remain distant on a contract. The Medford, N.Y., native made $515,900 last season and is looking for a raise to $3.4 million through arbitration, while the Blue Jays have countered with $3.1 million.

"Obviously, my agent is handling [the arbitration case], but I'm involved," said Stroman. "It's pretty interesting. I was aware of the ins and outs going into it, and [we're] just kind of going through it now.

"That's just something in the background that's there that we'll deal with when the time comes."

On Friday, the Blue Jays unveiled their Canada Day jerseys for the 2017 season, which coincides with the country's 150th anniversary. The new look is similar to last season's, with a few subtle changes: The logo underneath the "Blue Jays" lettering is an all red patch for this season, a change from last year's Canada Day jerseys, which featured the logo used on other jerseys. Additionally, the pants worn this season will have vertical stripes, as opposed to the plain white pants worn last year.

The Canada Day threads are also the team's official fourth jersey this season, which will allow them to wear the look for Sunday games as well as other select dates.

"I love 'em. Red is honestly one of my favorite colors, so Canada Day was always a day I looked forward to pitch on," Stroman said. "The idea that we're going to be able to wear these on Sunday now is exciting.

"I think we're in on [the design] here and there. They know we love wearing red every time Canada Day comes, everyone's excited to put on red cleats, everything's a little different, so I think it's pretty collective and everyone saw that we liked this."

Stroman has kept himself busy throughout the offseason. The 5-foot-8, 180-pounder lent his voice to rapper Mike Stud's track "These Days," spent time in Napa Valley, Calif., and launched his "Height Doesn't Measure Heart" clothing line.

"I like fashion. My mom, my sister and my brother-in-law took the reins -- they're running it all," said Stroman. "I'm just pretty much like the creative designer. I just OK everything. It's pretty remarkable to see how everything's transitioned."

Stroman is also in the process of starting a fashion blog called "Fresh Beyond Spikes," which he hopes other young talent around baseball such as Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper will contribute to.

Stroman spent part of Friday clearing the air on a perceived falling out between himself and fellow Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez.

The two grew close growing up through the team's Minor League system and have spent previous offseasons working out together; however, that hasn't been the case this winter.

"We're still friends," Stroman said. "We're not as close, but we're still friends. I know everyone's speculating here and there. We're still good."

Dhiren Mahiban is a contributor to MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.