Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop didn’t need anyone to show him around Prince George’s Stadium on Friday. He played a full season for Double-A Bowie in 2012 and was back for an injury rehabilitation assignment in 2015.
So, this was old hat. He put on his Bowie uniform (No. 16 instead of his Orioles No. 6) and hit the field at about 4 p.m. to begin what the Orioles hoped would be a brief stay to make sure he is ready to rejoin the major league roster after three weeks on the disabled list with a strained oblique.
Turns out it will be very brief. Rain interrupted Friday night’s game after Schoop got two at-bats, and the weekend forecast for Bowie remains uncertain. So, Schoop likely will continue the rehab assignment in Norfolk on Saturday.
It was still a productive day.
Schoop took ground balls at second base and joined the young Baysox hitters for a full batting practice session, which featured a measured progression from a relaxed opposite-field stroke the first time he entered the cage through a full-on power swing in his fourth round.
He batted second in the Baysox lineup and struck out against Akron starting pitcher Aaron Civale in his first at-bat. His second time up against the 22-year-old right-hander, he popped out to first base. He didn’t come up again because the skies parted and a heavy rain interrupted the game in the fifth inning, which ended his night because the team does not want him playing on a wet field.
He looked comfortable on defense, fielding several plays flawlessly and having enough arm to double clutch on a 5-4-3 double play and still zip the ball effortlessly to first base.
Of course, it was not about the results. It was about Schoop proving he is ready to come off the DL — a couple of weeks earlier than most players who suffer the same injury — when the struggling Orioles return from their disappointing West Coast swing.
“I felt good on the field and swinging, too,” he said. “I swung hard and missed and didn’t feel it. I’m getting my timing down. I can tell I'm ready.”
Nobody wants Schoop to rush back except Schoop, who clearly is frustrated at not being able to help the team when it needs him most. He said before the game that he watched the winless three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on television and just wants the chance to help his team bounce back before it’s too late.
During the rain delay, Schoop said he hasn’t given up on the season.
“It’s been tough to watch the team, but I know they grind together and they want to do good,” he said. “Things aren’t going our way right now, but we’ve got to find a way to figure it out. It’s time to find a way to win … to do whatever we can do to win.”
Before the Orioles’ game against the Athletics on Friday at Oakland Coliseum, manager Buck Showalter said Schoop might continue his rehab assignment at Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday and Sunday because of the weather forecast this weekend in Bowie.
“He doesn't know it yet, but he may get in the car in the morning with Dave Anderson and go to Norfolk. We're waiting on whether we want to transfer him or not,” Showalter said. “He needs some at-bats to make sure he's healthy. … I want him to be healthy.
“The worst thing is to rush this, if he comes back in his first at-bat and goes back to square one. Actually, we're ahead of schedule with what normally happens with an oblique muscle. We think we caught it early. We just want to make sure he's healthy.”
Schoop said he didn’t mind spending some time in Bowie, where he had a pretty good season in 2012. He spent a lot of time before the game talking to his Double-A teammates.
“It’s good,” he said. “You come down here and the memories come back to when you were young. Sometimes I like it here because I like our guys. I talk to the guys and tell them, ‘Don’t think it’s far away. Keep grinding. Keep playing hard so you can be out there and help the team. Don’t think they don’t know you. They know you’re out there.’ ”
Baltimore Sun reporter Jon Meoli contributed to this article from Oakland, Calif.