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Feeling 'stronger than before,' Schoop ready for rehab assignment

and Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Jonathan Schoop, out since April 17 with a right knee injury, returned to Baltimore Monday.

Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop's recovery from a right knee injury has taken longer than initially expected, but nearly two months after going on the disabled list, Schoop is scheduled to go on a minor league rehab assignment later this week.

With extended spring training in Sarasota, Fla., concluded, Schoop joined the team in Baltimore on Monday, continuing his rehab with early work at second base before Monday's game. He will work out with the team through Thursday and is slated to report to Double-A Bowie on Friday to begin his rehab assignment.

"It's really exciting," Schoop said of being back with his teammates. "I want to play, and I feel strong, and I feel stronger than before. … I feel really good, strong, light and ready to go."

Schoop, who suffered a Grade 1 posterior cruciate ligament tear and a medial collateral ligament sprain while awkwardly running through first base on April 17, has been rehabbing in Sarasota with minor league medical coordinator Dave Walker. For more than a week, he has been working under the supervision of vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson.

"He worked me out down there," Schoop said of Anderson. "He wanted to make sure everything was good, make sure I come back stronger than before, for me not to race through it again, make sure everything was good. He knows that I was excited to come earlier, make sure that everything was good, and stronger than before and then you've got to go over there. We don't need you to come like a week before, we need you to get stronger, not only for now, but for the rest of your career."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is cautiously optimistic, saying that Schoop must still come through this week's workouts before reporting to Bowie.

"He has to pass those tests first," Showalter said. "[The last thing] is to feel comfortable decelerating. …We talked a lot with him. There's some things that he's going to stay on top of the rest of his career. There are guys in the NFL, NBA playing in the same injury. But you've got to stay on top of keeping everything around it strong. It's like when something gets stretched out, it doesn't ever all the way come back. But if he keeps everything strong around there, he shouldn't have a problem."

Once Schoop begins his rehab assignment, he will have 20 days until he must be activated from the DL. If he starts Friday, he would be activated on July 9 at the latest.

"Do I think he'll need the whole time?" Showalter said. "If he's good these four days and the first couple days in Bowie are good, I don't think he'll need that much. I'm kind of basing it off [head trainer] Richie [Bancells] and Brady and Jon of course. I'm not going to say what other clubs would have done, but we are not going to activate him until we are 100 percent sure. Let the doctor sign off on it, not some manager that wants Jonathan Schoop back on the field."

Schoop received more than enough at-bats in Sarasota, Showalter said, but he still hasn't played second base in a game since the injury, so that will be a first when his rehab assignment starts. But Schoop said he no longer worries about his knee when he's on the field.

"No, no, no," Schoop said. "When it was three weeks ago, and I was doing my rehab, I was thinking a little bit about it, but now Brady and those guys worked me out, and I feel strong. I'm not thinking about it. I feel stronger than before."

Machado named AL Player of the Week

After hitting .458 in six games last week, third baseman Manny Machado was named the AL Player of Week on Monday. Machado was 11-for-24 with a pair of home runs, five RBIs and nine runs to help the Orioles win five of six last week, sweeping the Red Sox and taking a series from the Yankees.

Machado, who also garnered the honor in his first week in the majors in August of 2012, currently has an eight-game hitting streak that has helped raise his batting average 27 points to .286.

"It was a good week for the team," Machado said. "We were all doing well and if it wasn't for my teammates or my guys getting on first, it wouldn't have happened. It was overall a good week."

After a slow start to the season — he went 7-for-45 (.156) thro ugh the first 13 games — Machado has found his timing at the plate in the leadoff spot. After Machado started just two games at the top of the lineup in his first three seasons, manager Buck Showalter moved Machado to the top of the lineup May 5, and he has stayed there for all but one game since.

Machado is hitting .294/.347/.488 in his 40 games as the leadoff man to provide a steady bat in a role the Orioles were struggling to fill after Nick Markakis left in free agency during the offseason.

"It's a win-win," Machado said of the role. "You get to more at bats, you get to see more pitches. I think it's helped me out a little bit. Becoming a hitter, learning how to hit in many situations and learning the game a little bit, so it's been fun hitting leadoff."

While Showalter originally moved Machado up out of necessity, the 22-year-old has solidified his spot for the time being.

"I ain't touching him right now," Showalter said. "The more he does it, it almost seems like he is running a little more, bunting a little more. He's kind of taking on the attributes of a leadoff guy kind of by osmosis."

Machado has also swiped a career-high eight bags while getting caught just once.

"He is running better than he ever has as an Oriole," Showalter said.

Parmelee joins club, but not officially

Outfielder/first baseman Chris Parmelee joined the club on Monday, but was not added to the team's 25-man or 40-man rosters.

Parmelee, who could exercise an opt-out clause in his minor-league contract with the Orioles, is currently on the team's taxi squad, so the team must add him Tuesday. Under taxi squad rules, Parmelee was allowed to do pregame work with the team on the field, but couldn't be in the dugout during the game.

"We have first dibs," Showalter said. "We like him. He's had as good a year as anybody in Triple-A, for our team and for the other teams. He's played the outfield well and first base. He can do a lot of things. He has options to go play in the big leagues somewhere else, I would've imagined."

Parmelee, who was summoned to Baltimore on Sunday and drove up from Norfolk on Monday morning, had allowed two previous opt-out dates pass hoping he would eventually have the opportunity to join the major league club.

"Of course, you always think stuff like that, especially when you're down there doing good," Parmelee said. "The decision was made and I'm happy to be here."

Parmelee was hitting .312/.381/.444 with six homers and 32 RBIs at Triple-A Norfolk this season.

The Orioles already have six outfielders without options on the 25-man roster, so adding Parmelee would add to a logjam there. The team could option right-hander Mike Wright to make 25-man space, but would then need to fill a starting spot for Friday's game. The club can also place Schoop on the 60-day DL to create 40-man space.

Showalter miffed by latest All-Star Game fan balloting results

Major League Baseball released the latest All-Star voting update Monday, and the Orioles have two players in the top five at their respective positions. Machado and center fielder Adam Jones both remained fifth at their spots.

After his hot week, Machado trimmed the gap between him and the third place spot, just more than 40,000 votes behind Detroit's Nick Castellanos.

Jones, meanwhile, is more than 700,000 votes behind Royals outfielder Alex Rios for the fourth spot. In fact, Kansas City has three outfielders ahead of Jones and has players leading the voting at every other fielding position.

"What have they got a virus in the computer or something?" Showalter said. "It's got to be, right?

Even Omar Infante, who ranks last in OPS in the majors, is the top vote getter at second base.

"What's he hitting now, .204?" Showalter joked. "He must be having a heck of a defensive year."

Around the horn

LHP Wesley Wright (left trapezius muscle strain) is slated to pitch one inning on Tuesday at Triple-A Norfolk, beginning his minor league rehab assignment. Wright has been on the disabled list since April 11. … OF Andres Mora, who played three seasons for the Orioles from 1976 to '78, died on Friday at the age of 60 after a bout with pneumonia, according to various Mexican media reports. Primarily a part-time left fielder, Mora hit .223/.256/.383 over those three seasons with the Orioles, his best season coming in 1977, when he hit .245 with 13 homers and 44 RBIs. Mora played in the Mexican League until he was 42 and also managed 10 seasons in the league. When he retired as a player in 1997, Mora was fourth on the all-time homer list in the Mexican League with 419 homers. … The Orioles entered Monday's game leading their series with the Phillies, 26-22, including a 13-14 record at home. … CF Jaylen Ferguson, the Orioles' ninth-round pick this season out of Arlington (Texas.) High School, took his physical at Camden Yards on Monday, Showalter said. ... Low Class-A Delmarva 3B Jomar Reyes was placed on the minor-league DL with a sprained thumb. The 18-year-old Reyes, who is ranked the Orioles' 10th-best prospect by Baseball America, is hitting .283/.343/.424 with two homers and 24 RBIs in 54 games this season.

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