SEATTLE -- Whenever the Orioles and the Mariners tangle, two friends reunite.Jonathan Schoop, who set a new career high with his 26th home run in the Orioles' 3-1 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field on Tuesday night, stays in frequent contact with former Orioles and current Mariners slugger Nelson
SEATTLE -- Whenever the Orioles and the Mariners tangle, two friends reunite.
Jonathan Schoop, who set a new career high with his 26th home run in the Orioles' 3-1 loss to the Mariners at Safeco Field on Tuesday night, stays in frequent contact with former Orioles and current Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz. Playing him means reconnecting in person with Cruz, who he considers a mentor.
More than anything, Schoop enjoys the personal connection he's established with Cruz.
"It's pretty cool. It shows you how baseball makes you close," Schoop said. "It's a rivalry when you play against him, but obviously we are friends, too. It's amazing how baseball gets people close to each other and makes friendships. Not only around baseball, but outside the field."
Cruz took Schoop under his wing in his lone season with Baltimore in 2014 -- Schoop's rookie season -- and taught him everything from the finer aspects of hitting to the importance of keeping your body in shape.
"He gives me tips, but not only baseball stuff, outside too," Schoop said. "Work out your body. Maintaining your body is about maintaining your game. So, go to the gym, make a plan, do a routine so you'll be out there every day to play for your team."
Much of that teaching has rubbed off on Schoop this season. He was named to his first All-Star Game and is in the thick of the chase for the American League RBI crown with 86, also a career high.
Of course, he has some work to do to surpass his mentor, who tacked on his 96th RBI of the season with a single in the fourth inning.
For Orioles manager Buck Showalter, Schoop launching his 26th homer wasn't as impressive as some cerebral plays he rendered on the field and at the plate, which speaks to the 25-year-old's maturation.
"He's graduating a little bit," Showalter said. "He made two great clock plays, where the ball that he backed up and he shorthopped to possibly turn the double play, another where we were a little slow with the exchange on the 6-4-3 and didn't throw the ball to first and went to third base. Those are the little things, you see him take a walk in an RBI situation because they're not throwing him good pitches to hit, those are things that have allowed him to grow."
Josh Horton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Seattle. He covered the Orioles on Tuesday.