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As Jonathan Schoop taps potential with homer, Manny Machado searching for first hit

Jonathan Schoop's ninth-inning home run was hit about as well as anyone could expect Friday, with the second baseman smacking a belt-high fastball nearly into the visitor's bullpen in left-center field.

Schoop, however, believes he has more in the tank. To admit that's as far as he can hit a ball is to short-change his potential, and manager Buck Showalter believes he has tons of that.

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"Jon's a strong young man," Showalter said. "I don't think we've yet seen the things that [he's capable of]. I was really impressed probably the last week of spring training, he was really staying on the ball in the middle of the diamond, towards right field.

"If he does that, he's got a chance to really make a big jump offensively this year," Showalter said. "We all know he can defend."

Through just four games, Schoop is 3-for-10, with Friday's home run providing his only RBI of the season. In 2014, Schoop hit .209/.244/.354 with 16 home runs and 45 RBIs in 137 games, playing a strong second base to keep his spot in the lineup every day.

Meanwhile, a young player Schoop came up through the minor leagues with and thus will always be connected to, is having a tough opening week of the season.

Third baseman Manny Machado, in his first game action since August knee surgery, doesn't have a hit in 12 at-bats, though he's reached twice via walks and also has a sacrifice fly to his credit.

First baseman Chris Davis, himself coming off an extended layoff from game action, said Machado's at-bats are the kind that will produce in the long run.

"Manny's swinging the bat well and he doesn't have much to show for it," Davis said. "It's unfortunate, but I've seen him hit some balls on the button. I think Manny's biggest thing is just getting back into the rhythm of the game, having surgery and being out so long, you've just got to keep your emotions in check. He's done a good job of that. He comes in every day, puts in the work and eventually the results are going to be there for him."

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