Slimmer Schoop seeking to increase speed on bases

O's infielder also aiming to stay fresh down the stretch with trimmer physique

Slimmer Schoop seeking to increase speed on bases

BALTIMORE -- Asked at last weekend's FanFest to name a few under-the-radar players on the roster, Orioles manager Buck Showalter's first thought was infielder Jonathan Schoop.

Schoop, Showalter reminded the crowd Saturday, is just 23 and played his rookie season last year at the age of a college student. He's also slimmed down, arriving to FanFest at 225 pounds after ending last season at 235, with the goal to be at 220 to start camp.

"I wanted to cut some weight to move better, get my range higher and try to get some speed on the bases, too," said Schoop, whose running game hasn't been one of his strengths. "Try and put pressure on their defense."

Schoop is hoping the slimmer physique will keep him fresher as he admitted to being fatigued toward the end of the season, batting just .155 after Sept. 1. On the year, Schoop batted .209/.244/.354 with 16 home runs and 45 RBIs in 137 games, with his defense often keeping him in the lineup as his offense waned.

Schoop said he has learned a lot about preparation from last season, a combination of learning from the veterans and simply getting some big league experience. He's hoping that will translate into better results in 2015.

"A lot of things are the same [this spring], because I'm going in there to work hard, to make sure they know I'm ready this year," Schoop said. "I'm a better player than last year."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.