When Danny Valencia bounced a chopper to the left of the pitchers mound late in Saturday's win over the Toronto Blue Jays, second baseman Jonathan Schoop knew two things that would immediately follow.
Third baseman Manny Machado bare-handed the ball while charging to his left, and Schoop knew he'd make the throw, safe or not. After the play ended — and Machado improbably recorded the out — he locked eyes with his infield companion, Schoop, blew on his hands, and holstered his fingers like a gun.
"It's for the cannon," Schoop explained Monday. "After he threw him out, he looked at me, and I knew he was going to give me that. I've known him for a long time."
The two are "brothers," Schoop said, and the salute was born of a friendly debate as to whose "cannon" was better.
"We're trying to keep each other loose, we try to joke around," Schoop said. "He told me he has a better arm than [me]. I told him I've got a better arm than [him], but it's all love. Me and him joke around."
Machado said the same thing, dismissing the notion that it was directed at a Blue Jays dugout that contains his third base nemesis, Josh Donaldson.
"We're just keeping it loose out there, playing some baseball," Machado said. "It's something that, last year, we had going throughout the whole year and it kept the clubhouse loose. It kept the team going. That's what we're about here. [Nelson] Cruz taught us a little bit of something, he took us under his wing so we're just taking some things from Nelly and just enjoying the game."
Schoop has shot back at Machado on numerous occasions, including several times in spring training and on a double play in Tampa Bay last week, he said.
Manager Buck Showalter said he watched the play multiple times late Saturday night, and had heard of the hand gesture before seeing the play. After he saw it himself, he didn't take much issue with it.
"It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be," Showalter said. "In fact, it was kind of entertaining."