An Orioles FanFest lineup that was absent of significant star power, including the last-minute removals of Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop from the event’s roster, was not only noticeable but was a topic of discussion in manager Buck Showalter’s media session Saturday.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, whose wife Jill had given birth to twins earlier this week, and closer Zach Britton, who is in the opening stages of rehabilitating from last month’s Achilles tendon injury, were both given earlier permission to miss the event.
But on Friday — just 24 hours before the event — fans who held vouchers for autograph sessions with Machado and Schoop were informed they weren’t attending.
The team hasn’t released the reasons for Machado and Schoop not attending the event — and efforts to reach the representatives for both players on Friday were unsuccessful — but Showalter said Machado had a legitimate reason to miss the event, while indicating that in his view, Schoop did not.
"Jon, I'm not [satisfied with],” Showalter said. “Manny, it's one of those things I've learned over the years … before you knee-jerk with stuff. I've gotten a feel for what Manny's absence is about. I have a pretty good understanding of that. Jon's, I don't. The reasons I'm being given are not very good."
This year marks the second consecutive year that Schoop has missed the event. Last year, he was a last-minute cancellation because of a death in his family. Machado did not attend the event before the 2016 season to remain in Miami for the birth of his future brother-in-law’s first child.
Showalter indicated that Schoop was advised not to attend FanFest by his agent.
“I talked to his agent,” Showalter said. “He made me aware of the advice he gave Jon, so we'll live with it and move on."
Schoop is one of two arbitration-eligible players who has yet to agree to terms on a contract for the 2018 season. The other is right-hander Kevin Gausman, who attended the event. The Orioles signed five of their seven arbitration-eligible players on the day of the deadline to exchange salary figures, including Machado.
"I think we're disappointed that Zach got hurt and he's not here. I'm not disappointed that Chris' wife is fine and had two babies and he's there. I know a little more than I let on here about what's going on,” Showalter said. “I'm disappointed that Jon's not here. I think we all get advice along the way and heed some of it and some we don't. I think he got some bad advice. It's one of those things. We'll move on. It's unfortunate.
"I look at a lot of Fanfests around. I don't really care how many people are missing from other people's FanFests or whatever. It's a couple days out of your life, and I enjoy it. Usually I've found things that people may think is not [enjoyable], if you actually embrace it and look at it, you can actually have some fun at it. I don't know. I've made a lot of decisions I look back on and wish I hadn't when I was 25."