On Thursday, Mets manager Luis Rojas spoke at Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, Florida about relief pitcher Seth Lugo, getting to know Marcus Stroman, and the recent MLB rule changes.
On Seth Lugo wanting to be in the starting rotation...
"Well I had Lugo as a starter in the minor leagues," Rojas said. "I remember in the championship year in Savannah, he was one of our starters, and he actually made a key start for us to win the championship. Seth, we've had conversations, and they have been about being in our bullpen. But, he's always had the mentality of being a starter, just because that's how he developed in the organization. It wouldn't surprise me, having conversations with Seth before with somebody about being a starter or wanting to be a starter. That's the mentality that he developed with."
Lugo went 7-4 with a 2.70 ERA for the Mets in 2019, though the righty didn't start a single game. He's started 31 games in his four-year career, with 18 of those starts coming in the 2017 season.
On getting to know Marcus Stroman...
"Well a lot of fun watching Marcus," Rojas said. "When he joined us, getting to know him, I'd never met him before, the energy that he brought to the team, you guys can see, it's contagious. I think it spread out really quick. He developed great friendships, watching him and (Amed) Rosario, it's like they've been teammates before. I think he brought a lot of positive energy to our clubhouse, and he helped. He helped in a lot of ways to keep developing our bonding in the clubhouse, so that energy could be transferred to the field."
On Stroman's confidence and belief in himself...
"It's always important to be very confident for what you can do on the field," Rojas said. "Obviously, he doesn't lack confidence. We saw it from the first time he came in the clubhouse, I mean all the energy and the things that he would say about him on his next outing. The way he prepares, that backs up for how confident he is. That's something you got to admire. From day one we saw it, from day one when he joined the team."
Stroman spoke to media earlier on Thursday, expressing his confidence and expectations for the 2020 season.
On Stroman before the trade...
"I got a chance to see Marcus face the Dominican team in the WBC (World Baseball Classic)," Rojas said. "I drove from here to Miami to watch that game, when the Dominican team faced the U.S. team. And he started that game, and he pitched so well, he dominated. I believe he was named the MVP of the tournament when the U.S. won the WBC. I admired the way he went about it. You could see that he's a guy that controlled his mechanics, doing different things on the mound, quick pitching, doing different things. I admired the way he carried himself on the field. Now getting to know him as a person, what an attitude, I mean this guy is positive -- energized attitude. That's just contagious to the whole team. Excited to have him more."
The Mets acquired Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays on July 28, 2019, and the Duke product went 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA in 11 starts for the team.
He led Team USA to its first World Baseball Classic championship in 2017, earning tournament MVP honors along the way. He threw six no-hit innings against Puerto Rico in the championship game, as Team USA beat Puerto Rico 8-0.
On reaction to MLB rule changes...
Major League Baseball officially announced rule changes for the 2020 season on Wednesday, with the main change impacting pitching.
Both starters and relievers have to face at least three batters, or until the inning is over, before they can come out of a game. Only an illness or injury prevents the pitcher from being able to finish the three batters.
"I mention our bullpen every day, the guys have the history of being closers, history of seven games," Rojas said. "Guys that can face different guys in matchups. Lefties that can face righties, righties than can face lefties no problem. I think this rule applies very well for our bullpen. We talked about different scenarios, we're very familiar with the rule already. We've brought it up in different game simulations, game situations, that's the staff I'm talking. And we felt pretty good about what we have in our bullpen, and the guys in camp."