Baltimore’s best baseball bromance is taking a break.
Manny Machado is gone, and Jonathan Schoop is reeling.
They will still see each other. Schoop will visit Machado in Miami, and Machado will still take trips to Schoop’s native Curacao. They’ll still talk and text and Facetime. They will still give each other tips and offer encouragement. Machado will still watch Schoop’s at-bats from the West Coast, and he told Schoop he has no excuse not to watch his since his home games will start three hours later.
But when Schoop took to second base Friday night in Toronto, he looked to his right, and his BFF wasn’t there. When Schoop hit a ninth-inning, game-tying home run, Machado wasn’t waiting to greet him from the top step of the dugout.
Machado is a Los Angeles Dodger, and it’s all different now.
Meanwhile, Machado was getting ready for his first game in Dodger blue. Earlier in the day, he posted a message from his Instagram account thanking the Orioles, their fans, the city of Baltimore and his teammates.
“It was really sad for me and him,” Schoop said before Friday’s game. “It’s part of the business and sometimes you don’t want to believe it happened. It’s a long journey, me and him, so it comes to an end. Everything comes to an end. I know me and him are still going to be friends. I wish him the best over there.”
Schoop isn’t one to talk about his emotions, but before Friday’s first game out of the All-Star break — and the Orioles’ first since trading Machado to the Dodgers — he opened up about Machado telling him he was leaving, conceding that he bawled and rushed to Machado’s house to hug it out.
"I didn't want to believe it,” Schoop said. “I was at the lake and I had no signal back there. But my girl ran to me and I was chilling. She said, 'Someone wants to talk with you.' It was Manny on the phone. He asked how I was doing and I said, 'How are you doing?' He just looked at me and said, ‘I'm going to miss you buddy.' I didn't want to believe him. I said, 'I'm coming up [to your house].”
Schoop acknowledged that it would be difficult to focus Friday night.
"Normally it's hard for me to focus anyway,” Schoop said laughing. “But when the game starts, it's game time. I will enjoy it and have fun and play the game the way I normally play it. Find a way to press through it."
Machado and Schoop were in instructional league together in 2010. They were both 18. They played their first minor league game together on April 7, 2011, with Low-A Delmarva. Machado started at shortstop, Schoop at third. They moved through the Orioles farm system together until Machado was called up from Double-A Bowie in 2012. Schoop received his big league promotion at the end of 2013.
Since then, the two were practically inseparable. They’d walk into the clubhouse together, go to the batting cages together, take ground balls together, but Machado was always the superstar and Schoop the shadow. Both were comfortable with the roles, because they were comfortable with each other.
Schoop says they are like brothers, that over the years they’ve formed a unique bond, and it’s true. There’s that well-circulated photo of the two in the Frederick dugout throwing peace signs. There’s the celebratory handshake. There’s the way they’d try to playfully slap each other in the face, the kind of horseplay you see from rival siblings.
And they’d try to get each other everywhere, on the field between innings, in the dugout, in the clubhouse. Machado got Schoop good with a loud slap across his temple while they were casually talking at first base during batting practice on the Orioles’ last trip to Minnesota, prompting a playful mini-tussle that carried over into the first-base coaching box.
When they shared the Orioles’ middle infield, they’d get on each other between plays, arguing that one was out of position or that one made a defensive play the other couldn’t make. But together, their chemistry turning a double play can’t be missed. And they pushed each other to be better.
On Friday, Schoop had to take charge alone, gesturing to new starting shortstop Tim Beckham and just-recalled third baseman Renato Núñez about shift positioning.
And he ended it with a message to Schoop: “Schoopy, I love you, bro and I know you will carry the torch.”
When asked about that, Schoop looked like he was going to bawl again, but held it back.
“One thing, this guy believes in me more than I believed in myself,” Schoop said. “He said things, he says, ‘You’re better than me. I believe in him more than I believe in myself. This guy pushed me to the limit, man. Me and this guy, we fight like brothers. We hit each other like brothers, and two minutes later, we’re good. That’s what brothers do. This guy pushed me to the limit, told me I can be the best. He taught me a lot of things. I’m really thankful for him.”