Schoop poised for breakout season

Orioles infielder's main focus is staying healthy

Schoop poised for breakout season

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles infielder Jonathan Schoop arrived at Spring Training a little leaner, more committed to the weight room, with a singular focus for this season: staying healthy.

If Schoop -- who missed more than 11 weeks with a knee injury in 2015 -- gave any indication last season of what he's capable of, he's in line for a huge 2016.

With 15 homers in 86 games, it's not unreasonable to think Schoop -- listed as 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds -- could lead all second baseman in homers and easily eclipse the 25-homer mark. The 24-year-old will be entering his third Major League season and, along with shortstop J.J. Hardy, has had an impressive Grapefruit League season. Schoop had three homers and nine RBIs entering Sunday, and appears poised for a breakout season.

"He was pretty good last year," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's maintained where he was. Jon's a well-conditioned guy. [Vice president of baseball operations] Brady [Anderson] was telling me if you go through cardio stuff, Jon would be right at the top. Jon is primed and ready to go."

The Orioles wanted to make sure Schoop rehabbed his leg over the winter and regained strength, and that's exactly what he has done. And despite Baltimore's lineup additions and power at nearly every position, Schoop has a knack for well-timed homers and feasting off Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka.

Schoop posted a .279/.306/.482 line last season and hit in the No. 6 spot most often (28 games), batting seventh 18 times, eighth 16 times and fifth 15. Schoop was also a dangerous No. 9 batter, homering three times in nine games out of that spot. While Showalter has a lot of lineup options, Schoop could see more of the No. 9 spot this season, particularly when catcher Matt Wieters is behind the plate (as opposed to Caleb Joseph).

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