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Anxious Schoop returns to action for Orioles

Second baseman homers in first at-bat off DL

CHICAGO -- Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop returned to the starting lineup on Sunday for the first time since April 17, and he admitted he didn't get much sleep Saturday night.

"I said to J.J. [Hardy] on the bus, 'Help me out a little bit because I feel a little bit nervous. Like [it's] my first day in the big leagues,'" Schoop said. "He started laughing."

Schoop, who has been rehabbing a sprained right knee, played in just nine games before sustaining the injury at Fenway Park. He entered Sunday's contest batting .259 with three homers and seven RBIs, and gives the O's a power threat in the bottom of the lineup, which showed up when Schoop hit a solo homer in his first at-bat to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead en route to a 9-1 victory over the White Sox.

"It's been a long road for him, and now he gets another test. He's still another speed. It's a different intensity here. I don't care how much rehab you take," manager Buck Showalter said of Schoop, who hit eighth in the series finale against the White Sox. "Unfortunately, experience will tell you, they get a little splash quick and then baseball inactivity kind of slaps you a little bit and you go downward a bit and then you pick it back up and find your level. That's usually how it works. But you have to start somewhere. He's done everything possible. He's probably in the best shape of his life. Brady [Anderson] and him both said he worked real hard. It's exciting to get him back."

The 23-year-old Schoop, in his second Major League season, worked with Anderson closely in his rehab assignments in Double-A Bowie and Class A Frederick.

"He helped me a lot," Schoop said of Anderson, who is the organization's vice president of baseball operations. "The thing I like about it is he doesn't let you do it, he does it with you and he beats you. And he tells you you have to be better. It helped me a really, really lot. Because I feel like I'm in better shape than before."

Schoop said the injury made him realize he had to "prepare for the game better" and he will continue his stretching regimen and ensuring his hip and quad are activated to help him maintain good knee health.

"[The rehab] felt long, especially the first two weeks was really long. But I got through it," Schoop said. "Just tried to work hard and be a better player than I was."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.
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