If the Orioles organization hoped to see a final sign that Jonathan Schoop was ready to rejoin Triple-A Norfolk after more than two months, he delivered it pretty resoundingly Thursday night.
Set to rejoin Triple-A Norfolk on Friday, Schoop will be making his return after going 4-for-5 with two home runs and seven RBIs to lead Class A Short-Season Aberdeen in a 14-4 rout of Vermont.
"It's pretty nice to be out there and just play and have fun out there," Schoop said. "Just being good and trying to win, I'm happy to come through, deliver some RBIs for us to win the ballgame."
The Curacao native, Baltimore's third-ranked prospect, last appeared in Triple-A on May 12 for the Tides. A back injury kept him out for the ensuing two months until he began his rehab journey July 11 with the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Orioles.
Up until his injury in Norfolk, he was hitting .268/.331/.386 with three homers and 18 RBIs in 34 games in what was to be his first full season at Triple-A.
The 21-year-old hit .245/.324/.386 with 14 homers and 56 RBIs for Double-A Bowie last season before he went to the World Baseball Classic this spring with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, hitting .214 and slugging .464 in eight contests.
It was tough on Schoop to face a significant injury for the first time and lose a chunk of his season.
"At first when I got hurt, it was tough to go through with it," he said. "First time to not play baseball for two months, that first week it was tough. I want to go out there, want to go play, but I can't. Everybody giving me advice, 'Take it easy. Make sure when you come back, you're ready, don't want to come back and get hurt again.' So it was tough, but then I had to let it go and start my rehab to get back."
The rehab results have been promising. In his eight games in the GCL, he hit .360 with three homers. And in three games with the IronBirds, he went 8-for-14 (.571).
Most importantly, his back is pain-free.
"I feel ready, I missed two months, but now I feel strong. My rehab went good. [Baltimore coordinator of medical services] Dave Walker was awesome, and everybody that worked with me, I thank them," Schoop said. "It feels good, feels great. I think I'm strong right now after the rehab, did a lot of core exercises, so I'm feeling good.
"I'm excited [to get back with Norfolk]. I was excited in that first game in the GCL, just happy to be out there playing the game I love to play. Now I'm excited to go join my teammates I started with in April, excited to keep going."
Schoop will link up with Norfolk for Friday's road game in Rochester for the start of a four-game series.
On Thursday, shortstop Jeff Kemp went 3-for-4 with two doubles, four runs scored and two RBIs. Leadoff man Mike Yastrzemski reached safely three times and scored twice.