TORONTO - Marcus Stroman is having a busy summer, even if it's away from his Toronto Blue Jays teammates.
The 24-year-old pitcher was ruled out for the season after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in spring training, but has occupied his time with physical rehabilitation, training and a full course load at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
"I'm good with distraction," said Stroman on Saturday. "That's how I've always been. The more going on, the more I kind of feel like I lock in. When I don't have enough going on that's when I kind of get spacey.
"When I got a lot going on, I feel like I'm able to work better."
Stroman had a promising rookie season last year, earning an 11-6 record with a 3.65 earned-run average and 111 strikeouts. The first-round draft pick was expected to be the Blue Jays' opening day starter before injuring his knee during a fielding drill on March 10.
After undergoing successful knee surgery to repair his ACL, Stroman decided to complete his sociology degree at Duke while getting back in to playing shape.
He's only missed one class so far when he had to come up to Toronto to prepare for his upcoming bobblehead day at Rogers Centre — although he did have permission from his professor in intellectual property and innovation.
"It's actually a pretty good class because I just got that trademark for HDMH — Height Doesn't Measure Heart — that was approved in the past year," said the five-foot-eight Stroman. "So this class is about how to use it, it's about IP, intellectual property, just patents, trademarks.
"It's going to really, really help me during my career, post-career. I'm learning stuff now that I would pass off to my agent normally, and just say 'you handle it,' now I'm actually learning it."
In addition to his class on intellectual property, Stroman is taking a course on hip-hop cinema and doing an independent study on the portrayal of male and female athletes in the media. He'll take another two classes in July, allowing him to graduate by August.
Stroman listed off his course load on Saturday during a pre-game meeting with reporters in the office of Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
"Damn dude. You're way above this," said Gibbons. "You should own this team, not play for it."
Stroman puts in nearly 12 hour days Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, between his rehab, training and class.
"My best friend's with me. If he wasn't with me, it wouldn't be possible," said Stroman. "He'll pick me up, I'll change in the car, go here. I'll have my meal in the car, eat on the go while I'm walking to class. By the time I get home at 8:30 I'm dead. I just want to go to bed.
"It's better for me because I like being busy rather than just sitting there, I'm busy pretty much every day."
Stroman's working with a combination of Blue Jays and Duke medical staff to get his knee fully healed. He feels good and started playing catch on an uneven surface, no brace on Wednesday. Stroman is hoping to return to the Blue Jays roster in September, but his manager is willing to wait and see.
"I've got no idea. It's up to him and the docs, y'know?"said Gibbons. "He's a different bird too, I don't know if I'd put anything by him."
In the meantime, Stroman is enjoying his time at Duke, especially his class on hip-hop cinema where he's watched "Juice," "Set It Off," and the 1985 cult classic "Krush Groove," which is loosely based on the founding of Def Jam Records.
"It's unbelievable," said Stroman of "Krush Groove," which features rappers Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Kurtis Blow. "I watched it and was like 'this is unbelievable.' Seeing those guys in that element and seeing where they are now compared to 30 years ago.
"Seeing Rev. Run and you see him now and then you see him back when he was in his prime, wearing all Adidas. This was like the beginning of hip-hop culture and I'm very in tune with hip-hop."
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