Go touch grass: Why Marcus Stroman’s routine includes barefoot strolls in the outfield

Shortly before a recent start in Toronto, Marcus Stroman emerged from the Yankees’ clubhouse, walked up the dugout stairs, and stepped onto the field without any socks or shoes.

The starting pitcher enjoys taking barefoot strolls in the outfield grass multiple times a week. On this particular day, however, Rogers Centre’s artificial turf had to suffice.

“It works best on grass,” Luke Weaver told the Daily News of grounding, which he and Stroman incorporate in their routines. “Sometimes we get some turf. It just feels good to get out of your socks, get out of your shoes, and just kind of get some of that sensory type of feel to your feet.”

Grounding is a technique that is meant to reconnect someone with the earth. Also known as earthing, some studies claim it can help with inflammation, healing, blood flow and sleep, among other benefits.

A quick Google search will tell you that more research needs to be done on grounding, but Weaver and Stroman have bought into what’s already out there. More than anything, though, they just find it peaceful.

“I’m a big believer that in order to be clear out there, you have to be the best version of yourself mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally,” Stroman told The News. “Grounding, I feel like it just kind of coincides with my breathing and meditation practices. All things that are meant to decrease stress and anxiety, which we all deal with and walk through life with. I think everyone’s kind of searching for a calm.

“You come in after walking barefoot, you just feel better. You could feel your whole central nervous system just kind of calming down.”

While Stroman and Weaver are the only current Yankees who regularly ground themselves, the practice has become more popular in baseball over the years.

Other known participants include the Mets’ Adam Ottavino, Boston’s Triston Casas, St. Louis’ Matt Carpenter and several members of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“For me, I know that there’s some science behind it, obviously, but I’m not trying to get too wrapped up in that,” Ottavino, a former Yankee, told The Boston Globe in 2021. “Basically, I’m just trying to connect with the environment I’m going to be in every day, and it just kind of helps.”

Players spend a lot of time traveling between concrete-covered cities, so they don’t have much time to immerse themselves in green spaces during the season.

Grounding gives them a chance to literally touch grass.

“There’s a lot of research on electrons and different things that are coming from the earth that are just helping give you some more energy or whatever,” Weaver said. “It’s really good for crossing time zones and circadian rhythm. I don’t know if I’m getting all these terms right. There’s a lot of fancy words, but it really is just a nice way to kind of go on a nature walk while walking inside of a baseball field.”

Weaver, a reliever, and Stroman said that they ground whenever they can, not just on the days they’re scheduled to pitch.

Sometimes they’ll walk (and sit) together in the outfield. Other times, they go on solo saunters. Every once in a while, a strength coach will join, and the pitchers will do mobility and bodyweight workouts without shoes confining their feet.

The sessions usually last 10-15 minutes and are often spontaneous.

Weaver, a nine-year veteran on his sixth team, said that he’s been grounding for a while now, as it helps him slow things down mentally. Stroman, meanwhile, adopted the method after tearing his ACL in 2015 while pitching for the Blue Jays.

At that point, the right-hander started diving into his nutrition, mental health and spirituality. He found that grounding aided all of it.

“When I tore my ACL, I went to completely barefoot workouts and walking and really learned about the dynamic of the connection between the ground and your feet. It all starts ground up,” said Stroman, who also grounds away from stadiums. “I feel like we neglect it a lot as we get older. We’re in shoes a lot of the times. But if you take us back to the hunters and gatherers, to that stage, we were barefoot. We were very connected.”

Stroman added that he’s always looking for the slightest edge. At 5-7, he feels he needs to get the absolute most out of his body. So if he thinks grounding — or anything else — is going to give him even a marginal advantage, he’s going to do it.

His routine includes some other uniquely calming touches, including self-help books, candles and the aforementioned breathing exercises.

“I’ve always gone about things differently than most men,” Stroman acknowledged.

No other Yankees have added those elements to their routines, at least not in plain sight of reporters. Stroman and Weaver, however, have found a common interest when it comes to grounding.

Others are free to join them if they wish.

“It’s not for everyone. I’m the last guy to pressure anybody to do anything, I just know how much good can come from it, and I know how important it is in my routine,” Stroman said. “We play every single day. It’s just a lot of schedule, flying, travel — so much on your mind and body. So it’s just a little something to throw in to take a little stress off.”

Added Weaver: “All I know is it makes you feel better.”