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Jonathan Schoop is not here by default

The Baltimore Sun

Glad to say that the Orioles proved me wrong when they decided to keep rookie second baseman Jonathan Schoop on the 25-man roster and start him at second base in the season opener against the Boston Red Sox.

I have been saying all along that the club should keep him, but wondered last week whether the trade for Steve Lombardozzi would give team officials cover to send Schoop to Triple-A Norfolk and slow down his service time clock.

Now, let's get something straight. There has been some talk that the only reason Schoop got this opportunity was because of the injury to Manny Machado, and I don't think that's a fair assessment of his situation.

Schoop did everything necessary to earn a place in the major leagues. He batted .385 in spring training and proved to the coaching staff that he has evolved into a major league ready defensive player. If Machado had been healthy and getting the bulk of the playing time at third base during the exhibition season, Schoop still would have played a lot and -- presumably -- would have delivered the same strong spring performance.

Maybe the need for him would not have been as urgent, but it's likely the same dominoes would not have fallen if Machado had not gotten hurt. There probably wouldn't have been as big a push to bring in extra utility infielders, so it's difficult to say whether Alex Gonzalez would have wanted to sign a minor league deal here and even harder to say that the Steve Lombardozzi deal would have been made.

Doesn't matter. Schoop deserves his place on the roster and he's going to get the chance to prove he deserves to stay in the majors all year. If he struggles, the club can send him out to get more minor league experience and preserve some service time, but he really looks like he has graduated.

Time to find out.

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