After a Friday night stop at one of his favorite restaurants - Ruth’s Chris Steak House - Jonathan Schoop will take the field at Camden Yards today for the first time since he was traded by the Orioles to the Milwaukee Brewers last July 31.
Since that day he went to the playoffs last fall with the Brewers and then signed as a free agent on Dec. 6 with Minnesota. He signed a one-year deal worth $7.5 million with incentives after a season when he hit .233/.266/.416 between the Orioles and Brewers.
Schoop said that at the outset of free agency he did ponder a possible return to Baltimore.
“Honestly, there were a lot of teams that were talking to me,” Schoop said this afternoon in the visitor’s dugout. “I was thinking about it if I had the chance to come back. This was the team that gave me a chance. So I was thinking about it. But they never reached out. So I go forward and the Minnesota Twins was the one coming out more. So right away I signed with them.”
Now Schoop is back to face the team that signed him as an amateur out of Curaçao in August 2008. A team he played with for 635 games between 2013 and 2018.
“Weird a little bit,” he said. “Get to see the fans. I went back last night to where I was living and saw the people that helped me through my career. “It’s strange a little bit. It’s a new team but I still have some old teammates over there like Trey (Mancini), Chris (Davis) and Joey (Rickard). It’s weird, but it’s a good weird.
“I was looking forward to coming here to play my old teammates. Plus see the fans. Some helped me outside the field too. You get to know fans and people that helped your career.”
Schoop was asked about how he felt the O’s fans would be toward him this series?
“I don’t know. I don’t know. In Sarasota, I got a good one (reception). I was nervous a little bit. We’ll see today,” he said.
In 56 plate appearances for the 9-7 Twins, Schoop is batting .235/.304/.392 with two doubles, two homers and seven RBIs.
“I’m enjoying it a lot. We’ve got (Nelson) Cruz over there. My teammate from 2014. We’ve got some young talent and they’ve treated me real good. It’s not like the team I had with the Orioles, because I came up with Manny (Machado) and some of those guys, but it’s been good and we’ve been winning some games.”
Speaking of Manny, you knew Schoop would get a question about his close friend, who signed a 10-year deal worth $300 million with the San Diego Padres.
“We still talk every day. I saw him this offseason. We talk and are still in touch. The Orioles and baseball gave us the chance to be best friends. He called me a few days ago and said, ‘You’re not going to hit one?’ Then I hit two (homers). Me and him have fun. I think I’m better than him,” Schoop said with that great laugh.
Yeah, but what about Manny’s big contract?
“It’s good,” he said as everyone laughed. “I think he deserved more than that, but it’s good. He feels good and that’s all that matters. You have to feel good where you play and have fun and love the game. The money is good, but you have to love the game to play the game. You have to love the game first and the money comes next,” said Schoop.