Slumping Schoop aims to 'step up my game'

Second baseman has struggled since being traded to Brewers

August 8th, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- Manny Machado has texted him in the past day or so. So have other former Orioles teammates, like and . Orioles coaches have reached out, too.

They all say essentially the same thing to help cope with an unproductive start to his Brewers career.

"You know you're good," Schoop said Machado told him in a text. "You know you can do it, because you did it already, so don't press. Go out there and have fun. You have a really good team, so compete. You're at your best when you just have fun out there."

Easier said than done, Schoop admitted.

Brewers manager Craig Counsell said Wednesday was a planned day off for Schoop, who committed more errors (four) than he collected hits (three, all singles) in his first seven games after a July 31 trade from the Orioles to the Brewers. Including a three-pitch strikeout as a pinch-hitter in Wednesday's win over the Padres, Schoop is 3-for-26 with 12 strikeouts since joining Milwaukee.

Counsell cited the small sample size and urged everyone to "relax." He repeated that twice for emphasis.

Schoop knows he needs to do the same thing.

"It's really easy to say, man. It's hard to do," Schoop said. "Baseball, it's easy to say, 'Go out there and hit the ball.' But go out there and do it.

"So it's easy for me to say [relax] right now, but I have to go out there and believe it. When you relax, I play my best baseball. I have to believe in myself. My teammates believe in me, so I have to step up my game a little bit. Believe in myself, and it will come out."

Schoop admitted that being traded was a bigger challenge than expected, equating it to the first day at a new school. After going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his Brewers debut, Schoop faced Dodgers ace on Day 2. He'd seen Kershaw pitch on television many times, but never in person. More unfamiliar pitchers have followed.

"Not scared," Schoop said of the experience in general, "but you're nervous a little bit.

"The first couple of days, I put too much pressure. I think everybody goes through that. You want to come in and step up and get the big hit -- hit four home runs to help the team. It all crosses your mind. I just need to go out there and compete. I need to relax and go out there. I know what I can do."

Schoop showed what he can do in his waning days in Baltimore. Schoop earned American League Player of the Week honors the day before the non-waiver Trade Deadline, hitting home runs in seven of his final nine games with the Orioles. Schoop was held hitless in only one of 23 games preceding the trade.

Counsell said Tuesday that he believed both Schoop and fellow trade acquisition Mike Moustakas were past the point of trying too hard to impress a new team. Pressed on what made him say that in Schoop's case, Counsell said, "You're judging it only by results. I'm judging it by everything else that goes on, coming to a new stadium and things like that. The results aren't part of a new team; if he's in a little funk, he's in a little funk. He'll get out of it and be a big producer for us."

Schoop will try to do better. But he won't try too hard.

"Sometimes you want it too much," Schoop said. "I started a little bit slow, but I hope it's over. It's a new day."