Tigers' Jonathan Schoop staying in the moment on eve of trade deadline
Detroit — Nothing appeared to bother Jonathan Schoop as he took batting practice, fielded grounders and ran the bases before Thursday night's game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park.
Schoop joked around with his teammates and hugged some former teammates and friends on the Orioles.
You wouldn't know that it was less than 24 hours before Friday's 4 p.m. trade deadline.
“I’m not even letting myself think about it," Schoop said. "I’m just out there enjoying my teammates, hitting BP and just controlling the things that I can control. The things I can control are go out there today and play hard and help my teammates, enjoy the game.
"Whatever happens outside, I can’t control that. If I cannot control something, I don’t have to worry about it. So I just gotta go out there and the things that I can control, go out there and give it my all. That’s it.”
There's a reason that Schoop is not letting any outside noise get in right now. As the old saying goes, this is not his first rodeo.
In 2018, the Orioles, the team that first signed him as non-drafted free agent, traded him to the Milwaukee Brewers.
"They caught me off balance a little bit. It was a hard time," Schoop admitted. "It was a surprise, especially when it’s a team you’ve been with for a long time and they trade you. It got me struggling because your mind was all over, what’s gonna happen, this and that. It helped me where I’m at right now.
"I learned it through the years. The more you play the more you learn. There’s things you can control. One thing I can control is go out there right now and prepare for the game. Whatever happens, happens.”
Schoop is focusing on the success that the Tigers are having, even when they had 17 runs of fun without him Wednesday afternoon.
"Me and Miggy (Cabrera) were cheering for the guys, happy for them, score a lot of runs," Schoop said. "We win, we get a ‘W’ and everybody have fun. We have fun on the bench. We didn’t miss out. The thing we miss out yesterday we’re gonna do today.”
Schoop was scratched from Wednesday's lineup with back tightness but said he felt fine Thursday.
Manager AJ Hinch had Schoop back in the lineup batting second and serving as the designated hitter.
“He’s good enough to play second or first," Hinch said. "I wanted Miggy to play first after a day off. Jonathan’s more than healthy. He was due a DH day anyway and I had him in the DH spot a few days ago and changed my mind. Just kind of part of the rotating the DH around.”
More deadline talk
Hinch said he's not thinking too much about the trade deadline, even though he was chatting with general manager Al Avila during batting practice.
“The last 24 hours are always the busiest 24 hours. It may stay quiet for us, I don’t know about that," Hinch said. "You’re seeing action pick up around the league all over and pieces are starting to move. TVs off in the clubhouse, phones are in the lockers. If my phone rings, then we’ll make whatever move necessary. On our team we’re just trying to focus on beating the Orioles today and catch up on the news when we’re inside.”
Although they're thinking about the Orioles, that doesn't mean that Hinch and his coaches aren't paying attention to the moves being made.
"Being truthfully candid, I’m waiting to see what Boston does because we play them next week," Hinch said. "My attention is focused more on who we’re about to play and hug watch across the way if people want to start hugging and saying goodbye. I’m really hoping that our players can stay focused on the game. Some big names being moved around, some big names being talked about, it’s great for the industry, it’s great for our sport, so much attention is around this.
"The playoff push begins, I’ve been on both sides of it. When you’re acquiring players, specifically impact players, it’s the best way to go at the deadline and that’s what we want our team to get to eventually where we’re talking about the players we’re acquiring and not holding onto the guys that we have.”
Infielder Isaac Paredes, on the 10-day injured list with a right hip strain, outfielder Daz Cameron, on the IL with a right toe strain, and utility player Niko Goodrum, on the IL with a left calf contusion, all appeared to make progress before Thursday's game.
"Paredes is doing well, he's hitting early as we speak," Hinch said. "Looks to be heading to Toledo here pretty soon to get some rehab games in. Both he and Daz are getting really close to games.
"Niko had his best day of running and agility drills in recent times to where we've turned the corner with him as well. We're hoping to stock that lineup in Toledo really quickly with some rehab stints, maybe as early as this weekend."
No rest for bullpen
Because of Wednesday's crazy 17-14 game in Minnesota, the Tigers had to use Kyle Funkhouser, Derek Holland, Buck Farmer, Joe Jimenez and Gregory Soto.
Hinch said Michael Fulmer, who did not pitch, should be available.
As for the rest?
“We’ll have more guys available than what it looks like on paper," Hinch said. "But it is what it is. When you tax your bullpen the way we have, it creates some of the dilemmas that we have nightly. Our guys can pitch. We’re trying to be careful with guys because of the length of the season but the reality is we’re going to need to get our 27 outs tonight too.”
Orioles at Tigers
► First pitch: 7:10 p.m. Friday, Comerica Park, Detroit
► TV/radio: BSD/97.1
► RHP Matt Harvey (5-10, 6.65), Orioles: This will be only the third time Harvey has ever faced the Tigers. The former Mets star pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief against Detroit on Sept. 15, 2020, when he was playing for the Kansas City Royals. Harvey’s only start against the Tigers came on Aug. 24, 2013. Only Miguel Cabrera remains from that team that beat Harvey, 3-0.
► LHP Tarik Skubal (6-9, 4.42), Tigers: Skubal will be making his first appearance against the Orioles as the Tigers did not face them last season. After giving up just three home runs in five starts in June, Skubal gave up three in his last start at Kansas City and has given up six in four starts in July.
Dana Wakiji is a freelance writer.