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O's Schoop recalls first taste of Classic

Second baseman says tournament helped ignite career
MLB.com

In Jonathan Schoop's mind, it was the World Baseball Classic that really got his career going.

Schoop, who was part of the Netherlands team the last time this tournament came around in 2013, was an infield prospect who had yet to play in the big leagues.

In Jonathan Schoop's mind, it was the World Baseball Classic that really got his career going.

Schoop, who was part of the Netherlands team the last time this tournament came around in 2013, was an infield prospect who had yet to play in the big leagues.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

But when he left Orioles camp that spring, Schoop -- part of a talented group of emerging MLB players -- found himself in an international tournament filled with serious competition.

Now 25 years old, Schoop has emerged as one of the top power-hitting second basemen in baseball. He's coming off a season in which he played all 162 regular-season games, hitting 25 home runs with 82 RBIs and impressive defense at second base.

When he left camp in 2013, Schoop was trying to make the team. The Curacao native joked this spring that technically he hadn't been told if he was on this year's Orioles squad, either.

"It's a different [situation] but I don't want to look at it like it's different. I don't want to get too comfortable," Schoop said of his place on the O's. "I just want to go out there and play hard and get better at everything. Go to the WBC, try to win and come back and get ready for the season."

The Netherlands team surprised many four years ago, winning its pool and defeating Cuba to advance to the semifinals (and losing to champion Dominican Republic). In addition to Schoop, who will play second base, the team includes Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons, Yankees Didi Gregorius -- who will mainly be designated hitter -- Rangers outfielder Jurickson Profar and Boston Red Sox Xander Bogaerts, who is from Aruba and is the starting third baseman.

Schoop is hopeful they can again go even farther this time around, though he won't mind playing the Dominican Republic again and facing off against close friend and O's teammate Manny Machado.

"I want to play against him so I can finally show I'm better than him," Schoop said, laughing.

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Jonathan Schoop