By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
11:15 PM EDT, April 20, 2014
BOSTON — With Manny Machado still recovering from offseason surgery on his left knee, Orioles rookie infielder Jonathan Schoop has filled in for him for much of the first three weeks of the season.
Schoop had made 11 straight starts (out of 13 overall) at third base before Sunday night's game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. But Schoop competed for the second base job in spring training, and with Machado coming off a breakout season, Schoop's immediate future seems to be at second base.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that's why he started Schoop at second base Sunday for the first time since the third game of the season.
After Steve Lombardozzi pinch-hit for shortstop J.J. Hardy in the top of the seventh inning, Schoop shifted to third base. Ryan Flaherty moved to shortstop to replace Hardy, who is day-to-day with a right hamstring strain, and Lombardozzi stayed in the game at second base.
Showalter admitted it has been tricky to figure out where to play Schoop on a daily basis.
"I don't want him to get too far away from second base," Showalter said. "I want him to play some over there, too. When Manny comes back, I want to keep all of our options open. I don't want him to play all at one place. He's fine at either place. I think it's good for him to stay connected to both places.
"We don't know how Manny is going to do. He could have a setback tomorrow. You don't know what's going to happen, so I want to keep all our options open. I just don't want him to get too far from second, too. That's where I think he may end up, but who knows."
After struggling at the plate in the first week of the regular season, Schoop has been an asset in the bottom part of the lineup. With six doubles and a home run, he is tied with Nelson Cruz for the team lead with seven extra-base hits.
Schoop, 22, played nearly half the games (224 of 458) at shortstop in his minor league career, but he also played 209 games at second base and 24 at third base.
"I have more reps at second base through the minor leagues, so I think I'm maybe an inch more comfortable at second base, but I feel good at third base," Schoop said. "But I have work to do, too. I've made some mistakes there. That's part of the game. You're going to make mistakes. That's something I don't worry about. I just try to get better every day."
Around the horn
After leaving his last start at Triple-A Norfolk early because of a blister on his right middle finger, right-hander Kevin Gausman threw five scoreless innings against Durham on Sunday, allowing just four hits with four strikeouts and two walks. … The Tigers released infielder Alex Gonzalez, who was traded by the Orioles in March for Lombardozzi. Gonzalez was 5-for-30 in nine games for the Tigers and committed three errors in 31 chances at shortstop.
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