BOSTON — The Orioles entered Saturday’s game in Boston with a 6-4 record since Jonathan Schoop returned from the disabled list, and the club’s offense has shown more punch with the second baseman back in the batting order, averaging 6.8 runs a game since his May 8 return.
“I feel things are turning a little bit,” Schoop said. “One game, we score like 17 runs and we’re playing better. I’m here to bring energy and smile out there and play relaxed and have fun. We know we can do better. We hope we can keep it up and we hope we can get on a streak and win a lot of games. [We lost a lot] in a row, we can win 15 in a row.”
Schoop’s return has made a difference. When Schoop went on the DL with an oblique strain, he was hitting just .230 with one homer in 14 games. But in his first 10 games back, he had an .835 OPS with two doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Schoop’s return has given the team a boost both offensively and defensively, and that Schoop might not get the credit he deserves for his consistency because he’s played alongside his good friend Manny Machado for his entire career.
“The double play is more in play,” Showalter said. “Even some plays he didn’t get the guy out on, this guy is 6-3, almost 235-240 pounds doing this stuff. … Because Manny has been and is so good, sometime it kind of gets overshadowed what Jon’s done here in a short time at a young age. You start talking about [the best] second basemen in baseball, Jon’s got to be in the discussion. What does he not do? … Just a quality kid, someone you’re really going to be able to trust as his career goes forward. Contracts, money, nothing’s going to drive him more than just playing.”
Schoop’s seventh-inning solo homer in Friday’s win over the Boston Red Sox was his 93rd career homer, all with the Orioles, which passed Brian Roberts for the most homers by an Orioles primary second baseman.
“It means a lot,” Schoop said. “It’s a great honor. When I hit the home run at home, they told me that I tied him and I had a chance to pass him, so I was aware [of] it. It’s a great honor to pass B-Rob. He was one of the guys who taught me a lot of things that I know now. And I feel good to accomplish that. There’s many more to come and [something] you want to achieve by yourself, but you want to achieve like a team goal, too. You want to get a ring or whatever. But it’s a great honor.”
While second base isn’t known as a position of power, Schoop took just 574 career games to become the most prolific home run-hitting second baseman in club history.
“You look at the people he’s passed all time [among] second basemen,” Showalter said. You’re talking about Bobby Grich, you’re talking about Brian Roberts, you’re talking about Davey Johnson and he’s done it in a lot less time.”
Hess to start Sunday
After Saturday night’s game, Showalter announced that right-hander David Hess will be called up from Triple-A Norfolk to start Sunday’s game at Fenway Park.
The Orioles didn’t announce a Sunday starter earlier because they wanted to wait to see whether Saturday’s game would be played, but the team went with Hess after using right-hander Miguel Castro for 1 2/3 innings in relief Saturday.
“Hess is going to pitch tomorrow,” Showalter said. “We had to wait and see with the rain and potential of even starting Castro tomorrow and activating David to have some length. But he got in tonight. Legally we couldn’t bring him over here, but I’ve already told [Red Sox manager] Alex [Cora] that he’s pitching tomorrow.”
Hess, 24, made his major league debut May 12, throwing a quality start in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays, but was sent down after the games because he was called up as the team’s 26th man for the day. Because he was the 26th man, however, he is able to return to the majors before serving the mandatory 10 days in the minors that optioned players must satisfy.
He was scheduled to start Sunday’s game at Norfolk, which will now have a doubleheader Sunday after a Saturday rainout.
Around the horn
Right-hander Chris Tillman (lower back strain) is scheduled to throw off flat ground Monday, which would be his first time throwing since going on the DL. … Right-hander Darren O’Day (hyperextended right elbow) was scheduled to throw on flat ground Saturday, and Showalter said he’s close to being activated from the DL. “He said today, ‘If I had to [return], I could push it,’ but we really want to get it right the first time. He still has a little bit of discomfort there.” … Third baseman Tim Beckham (core muscle surgery) threw from 90 feet, took some dry swings and did some jogging Saturday. … Right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (shoulder) threw a side session Saturday. … The Orioles will have two picks on the first day of the draft on June 4. The Orioles, who have four selections in the first 115 picks, will make their first-round pick (No. 11 overall) and their competitive balance pick (No. 37) on the opening day. The Orioles lost their third-highest pick (their second-round pick) for signing qualifying-offer free agent Alex Cobb.