NEW YORK – Marcus Stroman reached the baseball equivalent of a plea deal with Major League Baseball on Sunday, accepting a five-game suspension for throwing a pitch in the head area of Baltimore’s Caleb Joseph last week.
The Toronto Blue Jays rookie started immediately serving the ban, and will be eligible to return Friday for the season-closing series against the AL East champion Orioles. A bullpen game, likely started by Todd Redmond, is expected to cover Stroman’s next scheduled turn.
“I didn’t want it to be lingering around the entire off-season,” said Stroman. “When spring training happens next year I’m not getting constantly questioned about it, just get it out of the way this year and move on.”
Stroman was handed a six-game suspension Wednesday for a controversial pitch Monday that sailed over the head of Joseph, who earlier in the game angered Jose Reyes during a play at the plate.
The 23-year-old immediately appealed, allowing him to throw six innings in a 6-3 victory over the New York Yankees on Saturday.
Stroman denied any intent to hit Joseph, insisting that the pitch slipped from his hands, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter called the episode “border-line professionally embarrassing.”
“I was pretty upset about it,” Stroman said of the fallout. “The next couple days, people questioned my character. Because I know who I am and everyone close to me knows who I am, and I would never throw at someone intentionally. And I reached out to Caleb and we talked a little bit, so we kind of resolved that issue.”
The two spoke over the phone recently.
Typically, a hearing is held for appeals but due to logistical issues one couldn’t be arranged, so the players union and MLB officials settled on a five-game ban to resolve the matter.
“Most of the communication was between my agents and the league,” said Stroman. “They kind of handled everything.”
During his suspension Stroman can continue to work out with the team but can’t be in the clubhouse or dugout during games. He said when he makes his next and final start of the season has yet to be determined.