As members of the Orioles greeted fans at the club’s 2018 Fanfest, much of the focus was on the players who weren’t there.
Third baseman Manny Machado and second baseman (and 2017 Most Valuable Oriole) Jonathan Schoop dropped out of the event just days earlier, leaving Orioles’ management disappointed by their absences.
“Obviously we’d like to have all of our players here,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “We’ve had communication with our guys, and we tell them the importance of being here. The fans would like to see them. And Jon, in particular, he was our player of the year. So we encourage our guys to be here, and we’d like for them to be here.”
Neither Duquette nor manager Buck Showalter offered a specific reason why Machado and Schoop didn’t attend. Showalter suggested that Schoop, in particular, had no legitimate excuse — and that he may have been advised by his representatives, the Legacy Agency, not to participate.
“I’ve gotten a feel for what Manny’s absence is about,” Showalter said. “I have a pretty good understanding of that. Jon’s, I don’t. The reason I’m being given is not very good.
“I talked to his agent. He made me aware of the advice he gave Jon. … I’m disappointed that Jon’s not here. I think that we all get advice along the way. We heed some of it, some we don’t. I think he got some bad advice. It’s one of those things. We’ll move on. It’s unfortunate.”
For Adam Jones, the absences of two of the team’s biggest stars didn’t put a damper on the festivities.
“It’s still a great turnout,” Jones said. “There’s still a lot of people here excited to see their favorite players still. I know that Manny and Schoop aren’t here due to family emergencies or whatever’s going on. I personally don’t know. But it’s something that’s important to them, so I respect their decision. But there’s still a lot of people with a lot of eagerness to see a lot of their favorite players. So I don’t think it’s being a Debbie Downer type of scenario.”
Jones weighs in on contract status, Orioles’ inactivity
Jones, the vocal leader of the Orioles, is always one of the most thoughtful and opinionated interviews at Fanfest. This year was no exception, as he responded to the criticism of the Orioles’ slow offseason.
“I think that same question can be asked for every player in every organization right now, besides the Yankees,” Jones said. “You see there’s still over 100 free agents. … You can see it’s happening slowly this offseason. So I hope a lot of guys can come to deals with their respective teams.”
Jones acknowledged that the Orioles have holes to fill, but added that it’s sometimes easier said than done.
“I just want guys that come in ready to compete,” he said. “I understand now as I’ve gotten older, you just can’t throw X amount of dollars at certain people. You just can’t do it. And certain markets can’t do it. I get that. So just give me some guys that’s going to go out and compete their heart out, and I’ll be happy.
“There’s still a lot of things that have to be done. But starting the first day of spring training, everybody’s 0-0, and starting March 29 this year, everybody’s 0-0. Everybody has a chance. Obviously you can put pen and paper down and write names down. Some teams look better than others. But not always that team wins the World Series. I always give myself a chance.”
Jones is eligible for free agency after 2018 season, but said the Orioles haven’t approached him about an extension.
“They haven’t come in to talk to me,” Jones said. “Go ask Mr. Duquette. You have to ask their side. The player’s the guy who just wants to go out there and play, no matter what. And as you’ve seen, I just want to be in the environment of winning.”
“The money is great. It’s phenomenal. We’re able to take care of our families and our extended families and so on. But the individual and the competitiveness inside the individual wants to win. You can’t just say, ‘Here’s a lot of money just to lose.’ I’m not going to be selfish like, ‘Here, I’ll take all this money, but I know that it’s going to debilitate every other area.’ … If I’m in a winning environment, I’ll be happy. If I’m not, I won’t be.”
Beckham on board for move to third
After Showalter broke the news earlier in the day that Manny Machado will be moving to shortstop, the man he displaced — Tim Beckham — was on board with Showalter’s plan to shift him to third base.
“It’s exciting, man,” Beckham said. “It’s a new position for me, so I’m ready to go over and have some fun.
“I’m open to it, especially if it helps the team and is a better fit for the team. The end goal is to win ballgames. We don’t want to lose sight of that. I don’t want to make this a big deal. I’ll just transition over there and continue to make the plays and be consistent.”
Beckham, who has started just five games at third base in his major league career — and none in the minors — plans to report early to spring training to work at the position with infield coach Bobby Dickerson.
“I’m going to get down to Sarasota early, around Feb. 11, and we’re going to iron everything out,” he said. “Either way it goes, it’s baseball. You’ve got to catch the ball and throw the ball. So I want to keep it simple and just embrace it. I’m looking forward to it, so let’s go.”