NORFOLK — Baltimore Orioles rookie infielder Jonathan Schoop may have learned Saturday afternoon that he made his first opening day roster, but he pulled a veteran move when approached by reporters to discuss it.
For a few seconds he denied any knowledge of the news — until he was told Orioles Manager Buck Showalter had announced it.
Then the 22-year-old Schoop, the club’s top position prospect who batted .385 this spring, broke out into a big smile.
“After the season was over, I went home and I said I want to reach my goal, I want to play in the major leagues,” said Schoop, who played in five games with the Orioles last September. “I got a taste last year and I never want to go back. That was my mentality. I went home, worked hard and came back in a better place.”
When infield coach and his longtime mentor Bobby Dickerson told Schoop the news, the Curacao native became teary.
“It was a little emotional because that’s an achievement everybody dreams for,” said Schoop, who won the job when infielder Jemile Weeks was optioned to Norfolk on Saturday.
Showalter would not reveal how often Schoop will play, but he is expected to get time at second base and third base along with Ryan Flaherty and former National Steve Lombardozzi. The extra infield spot opened up because incumbent third baseman Manny Machado is out for a chunk of April while he rehabs from offseason knee surgery.
“The way we are going to end up using Jonathan will be best, No. 1, for our major league club and, two, for Jonathan. Hopefully, we can mesh those two things,” Showalter said. “We’ll see when Manny gets back where we are with everything.”
The Orioles basically have set their 25-man roster — although they have not officially put Machado or the other four injured players on the big league disabled list. They also haven’t made room for the club’s two non-roster invitees who made the team: reliever Evan Meek and outfielder Delmon Young.
The Orioles likely will have to take two players off their 40-man roster by the time they submit their 25-man roster to Major League Baseball on Sunday afternoon.
Right fielder Nick Markakis was scratched from Saturday’s exhibition because of neck stiffness.
“I was fine getting on the plane [from Sarasota],” Markakis said, “but as soon as we took off it stiffened up on me.”
Markakis dealt with a slightly herniated disk in his neck last March and he said doctors have told him that he could have “sporadic flare-ups” in the neck. But he said he isn’t worried, and expects to be fine for Monday’s opener.
“I’ve never had this before a game, but if I had to, I could probably play,” he said. . . .
Suk-min Yoon, the Orioles’ free agent signee from Korea who appeared in two Grapefruit League games after securing his work visa earlier this month, pitched in four innings in the Orioles’ 4-3 win Saturday against their Class AAA affiliate Norfolk Tides.
The game ended due to persistent rain after the Orioles batted in the top of the sixth.
Yoon, 27, allowed four hits and two runs while walking none and striking out two. The Orioles manipulated the game — at times switching sides after two outs — for pitch-count purposes and to get in as many innings as possible due to the weather forecast.
Matt Wieters had a three-run homer against Orioles’ minor league right-hander Zach Davies in the second inning. Flaherty had an RBI single in the fourth.
— Baltimore Sun