Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop reported to spring training Saturday, happy to prepare for an encore to his terrific 2017 season.
SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop reported to spring training Saturday, happy to prepare for an encore to his terrific 2017 season and openly regretful that he skipped FanFest last month because of his contract situation.
Schoop said he was advised by his agent to not attend FanFest – his arbitration case wasn’t finalized at the time and he was set to go to a hearing before compromising for an $8.5 million deal – but he said a visa problem also complicated his ability to attend the event.
Schoop pledged he will do everything he can to make amends with Orioles fans, saying he would make greater effort to sign autographs for fans before games and answer more autograph requests that come his way through the team.
“Yeah, of course [I feel bad] for the fans,” Schoop said. “That’s why I’m going to sign [autographs] for them. … Every fan, I’m going to sign for them and give them something back. I’m glad it’s over and I can focus on baseball now, so I can focus on being out there and helping the team win.”
Schoop and new double-play partner Manny Machado both arrived in the clubhouse at the Ed Smith Stadium complex at about the same time Saturday, and each held court with the media.
Machado’s contract situation is more urgent, but Schoop also has reached the point where his long-term future with the team is in doubt. Though he was called out by manager Buck Showalter for missing FanFest, he said he does not feel that has strained his relationship with his manager or the team.
“Of course, of course, it’s good,” he said. “I went in there and shook hands with Buck and talked with Buck, and I think everything is OK. And like I said, I’m focused right now to go out there and do my job and help my team win.”
Showalter joked later that everything will be OK when he says it’s OK and waxed sarcastic about the impact Schoop’s absence had on his contract situation.
“I save that. … You save it,” Showalter said. “He knows it’s coming, so I’m saving it. Bring it out when it's needed. Jon’s a great kid. I’d hate that anybody get some perception that’s not reality with him, and that’s kind of what happened. Jon loves the fans, he loves Baltimore. It creates the wrong perception of him. FanFest is not about contracts or anything like that. It’s just some bad advice that a young player got. It really made a big difference in the arbitration.”
When Schoop was pressed about his on-going contract situation — he is eligible for free agency after the 2019 season — he would only confirm that he hopes to stay with the only organization he has played for and will listen when and if the team comes forward with a long-term proposal.
“To be honest, I’m not thinking about those kind of things,” he said. “I just want to be the best. I want to control the things I can control. I can go out there and play hard and if the talk is there, you can sit down about it. I’d like to be in the present, not think about it, and go out there and do my job and help my team win and see what’s going to happen.”
He’s looking forward to teaming with Machado in the middle of the Orioles infield and hopes that partnership will continue beyond this season.