Schoop plans to go all out for fans this spring

Orioles' second baseman vows to make up for missing FanFest

February 17th, 2018

SARASOTA, Fla. -- feels bad for missing last month's FanFest, and the second baseman vowed Saturday upon arriving early to Spring Training to make it up to the Orioles faithful.

"Every fan, I'm going to sign for them and give them something back," said Schoop, who didn't attend the yearly event in Baltimore because of ongoing arbitration negotiations. "I'm glad it's over and I can focus on baseball now so I can focus on being out there and helping the team win."

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Schoop, who ultimately avoided an arbitration hearing when his camp and the O's settled on a one-year, $8.5 million contract for the 2018 season, said his relationship with the team is fine.

"Of course, of course it's good," he said. "I went in there and shook hands with Buck [Showalter] and talked with Buck, and I think everything is OK. And, like I said, I'm focused right now to go out there and do my job and help my team win."

"I think I was more disappointed with the agent than Jon," Showalter said of Schoop's absence. "He knows [a talk about it is] coming, so I'm saving it, bring it out when needed. Jon's a great kid. I'd hate that anybody get some perception that's not reality with him, and that's kind of what happened. Jon loves the fans, he loves Baltimore. It creates the wrong perception of him. FanFest is not about contracts or anything like that. It's simply the advice a young player got."

Last season's Most Valuable Oriole, Schoop is coming off a career year that saw him lead the team in several offensive categories and go to his first All-Star Game. Schoop, who will become a free agent after the 2019 season, said he'd consider signing a long-term deal to stay in Baltimore.

"Of course, this is the team that helped me," said Schoop, who hit 32 homers with 105 RBIs last year. "This is the team that gave me the chance. This is the team that went to Curacao to sign me and give me the chance to play in the big leagues and make my dream come true. If they talk about an extension, of course I want to spend [many years here] and play for the Orioles. They're the team that gave me the chance to be a big leaguer."

Showalter ready to right wrongs of '17

Showalter wants to make one thing clear about his annual team-bonding event.

"This is not going to be a celebration of the 2017 season at this meeting Sunday night, trust me," Showalter said. "If people have thin skin, there's going to be a problem. This is not the place for thin-skinned people."

Instead, the O's skipper -- whose yearly event always sees the team board buses and leave Ed Smith Stadium's complex for some motivation and inspiration -- said the message will be for the club to get back on track. After a hot start to the season, the Orioles slid in September to finish in the American League East basement.

"It's kind of to remind yourself what we have to do to make up the gap with the teams with the $200 million payrolls and endless Latin American imports and endless free agents and trades," Showalter said. "But we can do it, we just have to stay up on those other things.

"And that's what's tough when you get a lot of new people in here. How quickly you can make that come together? And we've got to get some of that trust back with each other and with our fans, because we didn't intentionally get away from that. But I can tell you the things we weren't as good at that showed up, that we have to be relentless with. It's not perfect every night, but I can give you 20 examples and a number of games, and they'll hear that."

Worth Noting

• Nearly all of the full squad is already in camp ahead of Sunday's report date with the only three not accounted for as of Saturday afternoon , and . Vielma is expected to arrive late due to passport issues.

• Showalter said he's had extensive talks with first baseman Chris Davis already this spring in terms of offensive improvement.

"It's a big need without throwing it all on Chris' plate. It's because we all know what he's capable of," Showalter said of Davis, who has been very receptive to trying new things. "He's certainly aware, without stating the obvious. It's more talking about this year and not last year, moving forward."

• The team will hold a four-inning intrasquad game on Thursday to prepare for the game schedule, which starts with Friday's Grapefruit League opener against the Rays.