Sometimes there are All-Star selections that are ho-hum, that are expected, that are actually kind of boring.
And then there are times when a guy makes the All-Star team and you go, ‘Yeah, that’s right. That’s pretty cool.”
Sunday was the latter, when 25-year-old second baseman Jonathan Schoop, one of the most popular players in the Orioles’ clubhouse for his work ethic, steady personality and humble demeanor, was selected to his first American League All-Star team as a reserve.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise; Schoop is batting nearly .300 while leading the team in RBIs and tied for first in homers.
But, honestly, Schoop always seems to get overshadowed, whether it’s at a loaded second-base position in the AL or by the overall skills of his best buddy and infield counterpart, Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado.
So, Sunday, Schoop got his due.
“My head’s started spinning. I’m so happy, excited and I work hard,” Schoop said. “For me, for myself and to make my team better. It means a lot for me and for my family.”
The Orioles signed Schoop in 2008 as a 16-year-old out of Curacao, one of the organization’s few international success stories in the past couple decades. A Little League World Series hero – he closed out Curacao’s 2004 championship in South Williamsport, Pa. – Schoop was expected to be the Orioles’ shortstop of the future.
But that title was quickly claimed by the Orioles’ top draft pick in 2010, Machado, now a three-time All-Star as a third baseman. The two have been inseparable since they were teammates at Low-A Delmarva in 2011.
“I’m beyond excited. I know how much he’s worked to get here and all the struggles he’s been through just to get to the big leagues and now just the opportunity to represent his country, represent himself, represent himself and his family in the All-Star Game, it’s unbelieveable,” Machado said. “I can’t be more excited that he’s going to be able to participate in it and enjoy it.
Schoop said he and his family will probably stay at Machado’s house in Miami, while All-Star festivities go on at Marlins Park next week.
“Me and him are brothers. He’s happy for me that I made it,” Schoop said of Machado. “He’s going to talk to me right now and help me because he knows I’m nervous right now. He will tell me what to expect and what to do over there and how to carry myself over there.”
That’s the common theme here. Everyone is happy for Schoop. Orioles manager Buck Showalter was eager to leave his afternoon press conference to tell Schoop the news Sunday. Third base/infield coach Bobby Dickerson, who worked with Schoop when he was first in the organization as a teen-ager, was moved to tears when he heard the news, and when he helped deliver it to Schoop in Showalter’s office.
“It was pretty cool because I go back with him all the way when I got hired in 2010, the first time I met him was down in the Dominican Academy. Just a little skinny kid,” Dickerson said. “He wasn’t even thought of as one of our big prospects. He was always second, third fourth guy on the club. If you go all the way to Curacao, he was always behind (Jurickson) Profar, and then coming up with Manny. Obviously, all the attention was on Manny. It was just really an awesome thing for me, just knowing what(Schoop) has been through.”
Schoop said he had no idea why Dickerson met him near the team parking lot or why he was being summoned to the manager’s office Sunday.
“We started walking, and I said ‘Bobby, what are you doing here?’ He said: ‘I just want to talk to you.’ I told him: ‘Did I do something wrong?’ He said: ‘No, no, no.’ Then he starts to say, ‘I’ll miss you. Don’t forget about me if you go somewhere.’ Like I got traded or something, and then he said ‘Buck wanted to talk to you in the principal’s office,’” Schoop said. “Then he takes me in there, and then Buck and all the coaches come in, and then Buck told Bobby to tell [me]. Bobby said, ‘You tell him.’ Then Buck told me and Bobby D. starts crying. He’s an emotional guy. He knows me since I was 16; I think he’s more happy for me than [I am] that I made it. The coaches … all gave me a big hug. All the coaches, I’ve got to thank them all. They all get me better every day. They all work hard trying to make us better.”
The Orioles will have a lone All-Star representative for the first time since 2011 – unless changes are made to the AL roster next week due to injury. The Orioles had some other worthy candidates, namely rookie first baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini, de facto closer Brad Brach and starter Dylan Bundy.
But Schoop’s selection – if the Orioles could land just one rep – was the right call.
He worked his way up the organizational ladder and rebounded from a serious knee injury in 2015 that the club initially feared might alter his career. Instead, he’s developed into one of the best offensive and defensive second baseman in baseball at age 25. And now he’s an All-Star.
That’s a pretty cool All-Star story.
“2015, I got hurt and they told me I had to be out two months. All I know since I was a kid was playing baseball. It was tough times for me to go through all this and now I’m an All-Star,” Schoop said. “I’m so excited. I can’t use the words. I’m happy right now.”