Report From The Fort: Looking For A Bounceback (Part 3)
Image courtesy of © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY SportsThis is the third part of a three-part series of interviews with Twins bounceback candidates. Part 1 | Part 2
“After I came back from the injury, I was good,” claims Schoop. “I’ve got no excuses. I was good.” But there were after effects unrelated to the pain.
“Everybody told me that my swing changed a little bit because of the injury,” says Schoop. “But I didn’t feel it. If I’m honest with you, I didn’t feel nothing. So I feel strong, but they say I switched something because my body made me switch.”
He never did get back on track. Whatever the issue, it robbed the right-handed batting Schoop of batting average, power and the ability to hit southpaws. The problem got even worse after a trade deadline move to the Brewers, which meant leaving the Orioles, the only organization he had ever known.
“It was tough,” Schoop revealed. “I’ve been with the Orioles since I was 16. Like eight, 10 years, so it was tough to be traded. I got better. I’m a better player because of that. I’m a better man because of that tough time that I’ve been through, after being traded and everything.
So the offseason was spent working, including a lot of core work, which obviously makes sense when trying to get past the aftereffects of an oblique injury. He thinks his swing is fine now. But his focus for spring training is on building relationships with his new teammates. “Baseball is a good sport,” Schoop says. “You get to know people. You get to be friends. Sometimes you get to be brothers with them."
The hope is that better health, a tinkered with swing, and a strong team will help Schoop return to the player who was headed for stardom this time last year.
Nick Gordon had something to prove last year, and for a while, he did. After limping to the end of the 2017 season in Double-A Chattanooga, Gordon returned and conquered, hitting .333 with a .906 OPS over the first two months. The 23-year-old was rewarded with a promotion to Triple-A Rochester, where everything fell apart.
“It’s about more than just your talent,” reflected Gordon, when I asked him about the experience. Gordon hit just .212 over 99 games in Rochester, with just a .524 OPS. “I can definitely say, I feel like I have some stuff to prove.”
Gordon’s prospect status suffered as a result of his extended slump. He doesn’t let that affect his view of his future. “I definitely know I can play the game. I don’t think that is something that is questionable,” he says.
He is rededicating himself to better prepare for the higher level of baseball he experienced. “That’s something I’m definitely more excited about: keeping my routine going better, and preparing myself as a professional,” Gordon says.
Gordon speaks like a person who knows he got knocked around a little bit by the advancement in levels. But he also sees that as part of the process of getting to the big leagues. “Guys go through things,” he admits. “Great players go through things like that. It definitely humbles you.”
Perhaps Gordon’s struggles last year, and his resulting attitude, are all part of a ballplayer's maturity process.
- brvama, h2oface, dbminn and 1 other like this