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Orioles notebook: Jonathan Schoop taking struggles in stride, sees end in sight

Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop hits a single in the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 23, 2016 in Kansas City, Mo.
Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop hits a single in the second inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 23, 2016 in Kansas City, Mo. (Ed Zurga / Getty Images)

Mired in a 3-for-33 slump that has all but erased his hot start, Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop said he doesn't see much difference in the at-bats he has had over that stretch and hopes to see his fortunes turn soon.

"I feel OK," Schoop said. "This is baseball, you know? That's why you play 160-something games. Not every time you're going to get hits. But the bright part is it's baseball. It's not fun if you get hits every at-bat. You've got to fight to get better, work to get better."

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Even with a hit in Wednesday's win to end a three-game hitless streak, Schoop entered Thursday batting just .206 with a .636 OPS, after peaking with a two-home run game on April 15 at the Texas Rangers. When that game ended, he was batting .314 with a 1.037 OPS.

Since then, he has gone cold, though manager Buck Showalter said Schoop has only seen his plate appearances change "a little bit."

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"I think [it's] results more than anything, but he's hit, I think, five balls right on the button right at somebody through this period," Showalter said. "Selectivity is still pretty good — not as good as it was — but Jon has done a good job with that. All of our guys have."

Eight of Schoop's 14 strikeouts have come during this span, but he has mostly still made good contact through the bad stretch. His average exit velocity is still over 91 mph, well above the league average of 89 mph, and against the Kansas City Royals and Tampa Bay Rays he hit into outs against two of the majors' more aggressive teams when it comes to defensive shifts.

"I don't feel like bad luck, because that's why they're out there," Schoop said. "They catch the ball, too. I've just got to keep grinding. The good part is we're winning. That's the important thing. Things are going to fall."

Gallardo rehabbing with team

Showalter said right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who went on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis over the weekend, is "pain free" after having a cortisone shot, though it's too early to say when he'll throw again.

"He's started with his exercises with the cuff," Showalter said. "That's where you get an idea of how strong it is or isn't by the number of the weight or the weights that you can use. It gives you an idea of how far away somebody is by the amount of weight they start at with the strength exercises. It's a process, but we like the potential of the return, so we'll go as fast as we can but as slow as we need to."

Gallardo will remain with the Orioles while he rehabilitates, Showalter said.

Harvey nearing return

Orioles pitching prospect Hunter Harvey, who hasn't pitched for an affiliate after suffering a groin injury last month, pitched two innings Thursday in an extended spring game in Sarasota, Fla., Showalter said. When asked about his next step, and what was realistic to expect from the 2013 first-round draft pick this season, Showalter said the goal was for him to get out of Florida unscathed.

He never did that in 2015, when a fractured leg and elbow troubles kept him from pitching in a game all season.

"Let's let him get out of extended spring first," Showalter said. "Let's let him feel good tomorrow. I'm sure that he's going to have another outing, and where they send him to, I'll leave that up to [director of player development] Brian [Graham] and [executive vice president Dan Duquette]. I think if he stays healthy … I'd love to get him to 100 innings this year. That's just a number I've pulled out of the sky. If he's healthy, he's capable of competing at a lot of levels."

Around the horn

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Center fielder Adam Jones received the Governor's Service Award for his continued service to the city of Baltimore from Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford before Thursday's game. Jones will receive his 2015 Player's Choice Award as the Marvin Miller Man of the Year from the team's players union representative, Darren O'Day, on Friday. … Showalter mentioned Thursday that he believes outfielder Joey Rickard, who is ambidextrous, can be a switch-hitter. … Outfielder-designated hitter Jimmy Paredes (wrist) will still play some outfield on his rehab assignment, though he started his first game at Double-A Bowie at third base and his second at designated hitter Wednesday.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

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