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Curacao roots important to O's Schoop

Second baseman returns to childhood field in offseason
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Jonathan Schoop never forgets his roots.

Schoop, a native of Curacao, spends his offseasons there. The All-Star -- coming off a career year in which he was named Most Valuable Oriole -- still goes to the same field he grew up on to prepare for the upcoming season.

BALTIMORE -- Jonathan Schoop never forgets his roots.

Schoop, a native of Curacao, spends his offseasons there. The All-Star -- coming off a career year in which he was named Most Valuable Oriole -- still goes to the same field he grew up on to prepare for the upcoming season.

"My dad and my brother brought me here to this field. I got a uniform on, and I've learned here since I was 4," said Schoop, who played right field and shortstop as a kid. "I kept learning and learning and listening to my coaches and getting better.

"This field is everything. I used to come to this field at 10 o'clock in the morning and leave at 10 o'clock at night. I lived at the field all the time. I enjoyed it."

Schoop batted .293 with a career-high 32 homers and 105 RBIs in 160 games in 2017. The 26-year-old, who will be a free agent in 2020, has evolved from a shy kid into one of the Orioles' middle-of-the-lineup big names.

Video: Schoop consistent source of power for potent O's bats

Schoop knows his words carry weight, and it's a role he takes seriously. That's why the second baseman makes it a point to visit coach Frank Curiel and come back to his field for clinics. Schoop remembers how much it meant to him to have big leaguers like Randall Simon and Andruw Jones coming back to the island for clinics.

"Now they can watch me, they can watch Didi Gregorius, they can watch Andrelton Simmons, Jurickson Profar, Ozzie Albies, Kenley Jansen," Schoop said, listing the impressive number of current Curacao big leaguers.

"I come back, give the kids some advice, let them see me and let them know that if I can make it, they can make it, too."

Schoop credits his teammates with helping him take the step to the next level -- in particular, close friend Manny Machado, who he talks to frequently year-round. They came up through the Minor Leagues together and have handshakes and a friendly competition to keep each other on their toes.

Former Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy also gave Schoop the sage advice to not worry about individual numbers -- just stay healthy and the numbers will be there at the end of the year. It's something Schoop has carried with him.

"That's what I'm trying to do," Schoop said. "Have fun with it, enjoy the game, play hard and try to win."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles, Jonathan Schoop