MINNEAPOLIS — For the Twins, so much of their 2019 campaign and potential success hinges on players bouncing back.
There’s Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano at the forefront. There are others coming back from injury. Feel free to add second baseman Jonathan Schoop to that list.
Schoop, one year removed from an all-star season with Baltimore in 2017, took a step back last year. But he has put that behind him and believes the best is ahead of him. He signed a one-year contract worth $7.5 million with the Twins in December.
“I’m really motivated. Last year is last year. I’m not trying to think about it. I’m trying to think some good things about last year and trying to keep me better,” Schoop said Friday at TwinsFest. “Last year passed already.”
Schoop, 27, set career highs in 2017, slashing .293/.338/.503 with 32 home runs and 105 runs batted in.
But his 2018 season saw both oblique injury and a trade from the Orioles to the Brewers.
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“(I was) trying to do too much. That’s why it helped me not trying to do too much. Coming back from the injury, I wanted to be the hero,” Schoop said. “I wanted to help my teammates. My team was losing. I was trying to be back and trying to be the guy.”
Schoop hit just .202 with the Brewers after the trade, but he said he thinks the both the injury and the trade taught him a lesson.
“It helped me become the player I will be in 2019, so I know for a fact I will be better,” he said. “Sometimes you have to (not) only talk about it but you’ve gotta to do it too, so I’m ready for it. I worked hard this offseason. After this, I will go on back and keep working and come to spring training ready and go and get some work and try to be ready for the season.”
During the winter meetings, Twins general manager Thad Levine said both Schoop’s age and the club’s “admiration for his ability” were drawing points.
“As we are building a team that certainly has a few stories of reclamation and redemption, we add him to the list,” Levine said at the meetings. “And a guy who could be a really high-end performer if we can somehow apply the appropriate resources to put him in the best position to succeed.”
On Schoop’s end, he said the decision to come to Minnesota was an easy one. He was drawn to the Twins’ youth, among other things.
“We’ve got really good talent, so we’ve got a really good chance to do some damage,” he said.
Schoop said he preferred to take a one-year deal. He’s betting on himself, so to speak, before he hits free agency again.