The straightforward narrative could be that Jonathan Schoop was destined to return to Detroit. Whereas the Tigers liked his manufacturing and management, Schoop loved his position in serving to younger gamers. However their reunion on a one-year, $4.5 million contract comes with either side wanting completely different than final season.
The Tigers, after all, have modified, with new supervisor A.J. Hinch and new hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh, the latter of whom labored with Schoop for many of his tenure in Baltimore.
Hinch has made no secret that he loves positional versatility. And that’s the place Schoop is prepared to alter, too.
“I simply need to show that I can play brief, I can play third, I can play throughout,” Schoop mentioned throughout a Monday video convention with reporters. “No matter you want me [to do], I can go in there and do it, and do it actually good. If I play solely second base, it is good, however I do know I can play in all places. I do know I can play brief, I do know I can play third base, so I simply need to present what I can do.”
Schoop performed all these positions at completely different factors on his manner by the Orioles’ farm system after signing as a teen out of Curacao as a shortstop. He performed second and brief extensively for many his manner up the Minors, however moved nearly completely to second in Baltimore, the place Manny Machado had the shortstop place.
Schoop and Hinch talked about versatility earlier than Schoop re-signed. Schoop mentioned they didn’t speak about first base, the place the Tigers nonetheless have a obtrusive opening as Spring Coaching nears and C.J. Cron stays a free agent following left knee surgical procedure in August, however Schoop mentioned he’s open to first, too.
“In Spring Coaching, we’ll speak extra,” Schoop mentioned. “However like I say, I am able to play no matter they want me. In the event that they want me at first, I am prepared. In the event that they want me at third, I am prepared. Brief, I am prepared. Left area, proper area, I am prepared in all places. Perhaps they want me solely at second base, you by no means know, however I am prepared.”
The opposite potential change is on the plate, the place Schoop was the point of interest of the Tigers’ lineup for stretches earlier than a proper wrist damage ended his season in mid-September. He has typically been recognized for energy on the expense of strikeouts over the previous few years, however he needs to enhance on the latter.
“I need to come again and get extra good at-bats and keep within the zone, swing at extra strikes and don’t chase an excessive amount of,” he mentioned.
Which may not be a coincidence. Whereas Schoop posted a career-high 32 dwelling runs with the Orioles below Coolbaugh’s tutelage in 2017, he additionally had a career-low 21 p.c strikeout price in response to Statcast. The latter rose in every of the subsequent two seasons, up till 25.0 p.c with the Twins in ’19, earlier than dropping to 22.0 p.c final yr. Schoop’s 38.2 p.c chase price was nonetheless 10 factors above the Main League common, tempered by a slight enchancment in his contact price on pitches outdoors the strike zone.
“I’ve to only come up there with a greater plan,” Schoop mentioned, “go up there and allow them to throw strikes. In the event that they’re not strikes, simply don’t swing at it. Attempt to see the ball early and attempt to see the ball within the zone and put a very good swing on it. I’ve to go up there with a plan.”
Coolbaugh served as Orioles hitting coach from 2015-18, together with Schoop’s breakthrough 2017 marketing campaign and drop in ’18. Schoop’s .278 batting common, .324 on-base proportion, .475 slugging proportion, .799 OPS and 115 OPS+ final yr had been all his finest numbers since ’17.
“He’s a very good hitting coach,” Schoop mentioned of Coolbaugh, “and I do know I’m going to do higher as a result of he is aware of me. I’ve a very good relationship with him. He’s a coach, however we grew to become actually good associates, too, as a result of [if] I do one thing flawed, he’ll bounce on me. He would inform me, ‘Let’s go. Let’s go do that proper.’”
That mentioned, there’s an apparent consolation stage with Schoop in Detroit, and Schoop was anticipating stability. The Tigers final yr marked his fourth staff in three seasons. Now, they’re the primary staff he’s coming again to since his pre-free-agency days in Baltimore.
“Truthfully, I really feel at dwelling in Detroit,” Schoop mentioned. “I really feel good with the fellows, the younger guys round. I constructed a very good relationship with them, and I really feel like we now have a very good group of fellows that may work collectively and win plenty of ballgames. We simply must put it collectively, and I imagine in them.”