Two of the Orioles’ most popular players – third baseman Manny Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop – will not be attending Saturday’s annual FanFest event.
Fans who had autograph vouchers for stations with Machado and Schoop were sent emails Friday morning informing them the players will be unable to attend and were unable to be replaced with another player.
Those who purchased autograph vouchers for sessions including Machado and Schoop will have their credit card charges refunded and their vouchers will still be good to receive autographs from the other players in their session, a club source said.
The Orioles have yet to announce that neither player will be able to attend to the public, and the club has yet to comment on why they won’t be attending, but neither Machado nor Schoop are listed where their autograph sessions were scheduled on the Orioles FanFest website. The news was followed by a fan uproar on social media.
Typically, players are only given permission to miss the event for an approved family reason or other personal reasons. First baseman Chris Davis and closer Zach Britton had previously been given permission to miss Saturday’s event and weren’t included on the autograph voucher schedule.
Davis’ wife, Jill, gave birth to twins earlier this week, and Britton is in the beginning steps of rehabilitating from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon he injured during an offseason workout last month.
This is the second time in three years that Machado has missed the event. He didn’t attend FanFest before the 2016 season for the birth of his future brother-in-law’s first child.
Schoop also missed last year’s event because of a death in his family.
FanFest has long been an event focused on the fans, the one time before the season when they can get autographs and interact with players, coaches and fans. Autograph vouchers sell out within minutes of going on sale, especially for the popular players such as Machado and Schoop. Because of that, it had always been seen as a requirement for players to attend the event unless they have a valid reason to miss it.
Machado, who is set to be a free agent after this season, has been the subject of trade rumors throughout the offseason. Both executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter are prepared to have Machado in an Orioles uniform on Opening Day.