As Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop plopped down on the couch in the visiting clubhouse of Fenway Park, teammate Manny Machado pulled over a chair so Schoop could elevate his injured right knee, which was braced with a heavy immobilizer. Before the Orioles' game against the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon, teammates and staff gave Schoop words of encouragement as reality set in that another early-season injury had wracked the Orioles.
Schoop, the talented 23-year-old who won the starting second base job last season as a rookie and was having a strong start to the 2015 campaign, went on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with a Grade 1 partial posterior cruciate ligament tear and a medial collateral ligament sprain in his right knee. It is unclear how much time Schoop could miss, but it is possible that his recovery could take multiple weeks beyond the DL date of May 3.
“We're not going to get into timelines right now,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We know it's a minimum of the DL period. I know more than I'm going to talk about here as far as the worst-case scenario, but we feel confident that he'll be back this season.”
Schoop was injured when he landed awkwardly running through the first-base bag in the fifth inning of the Orioles' 3-2 loss to the Red Sox on Friday.
“Yeah, it was on first base,” Schoop said. “When I stood up, I felt it a little bit. But I was able to finish the game. On the last play, I was running a little bit and I felt my legs burning. When I came in it was swollen. … It was swollen a little bit, but I thought ice and treatment would make it better.
“It's really disappointing you want to be there for the team, for myself,” Schoop said. “So far, I was having really good at-bats. It's really disappointing, but there's nothing I can do.”
Schoop also absorbed a hard slide at second base Friday from Boston third baseman Pablo Sandoval — a play that triggered Ubaldo Jimenez's ejection when Sandoval was later hit by a pitch — but Showalter said the injury had nothing to do with that slide.
“We didn't think twice about the slide last night and don't [now],” Showalter said. “It's some figment of somebody's imagination.”
The Orioles are already without catcher Matt Wieters (Tommy John surgery last June) and shortstop J.J. Hardy (left shoulder strain) because of injury.
The team reinstated Jimmy Paredes — who batted fifth Saturday as the team's designated hitter — from the disabled list. Paredes could see time at second base as well, but Ryan Flaherty and Everth Cabrera will log most of the innings there. Flaherty started at second Saturday.
Through nine games this season, Schoop was hitting .259 with three homers and seven RBIs. The Orioles were excited that Schoop would build on a rookie season in which he hit just .209 and Showalter raved about plate adjustments Schoop made working with new hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh.
“I feel bad for him because I think it's pretty obvious he and Scott had something really going on,” Showalter said. “He was doing some things we hoped he would start doing this year and that's the last thing I told him. Have that mental picture and watch those at-bats, because the things he was doing the last four, five or six games, if Jon stays with that approach he's going to be a force.”
Showalter was optimistic that an MRI performed on the knee showed no damage to Schoop's anterior cruciate ligament. The team believes he won't need surgery. Schoop will go to the team's spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., to rehab the injury with minor league medical coordinator Dave Walker.
“There's three grades,” Showalter said of the PCL tear. “This is Grade 1, which is good news. From the symptoms he had last night and where we are now, I feel — not relieved — but I feel better than I thought we had the potential to have. Just really glad that his ACL is in good shape because that's the one you have to do surgery, and it's an extended period of time.”
Schoop remained in Friday's game and didn't think much of the injury, but said he felt a burning feeling in his leg on the last play of the game and woke up with stiffness in the leg on Saturday.
“Right now it feels stiff, like I can't bend it,” Schoop said. “It doesn't feel like it hurts, like anything pinching it. But it's stiff. It's worse than I thought it was going to be.”
Schoop struggled to stay healthy in the minor leagues, missing 74 days in 2013 with a stress fracture in his lower back. But he maintained his health throughout last year's rookie season, adding to the disappointment of the freak injury. He has no history of knee issues.
“Last year, I played healthy,” Schoop said. “This year I was healthy, too. But yesterday, I tripped. Things happen. I've just got to forget about it and try to get better. I'll try to go out there and rehab, go hard after it and get better. … I will do my best to come back as soon as I possibly can and make sure everything is good, too.”