HOUSTON — Detroit Tigers second baseman Jonathan Schoop, a 10-year MLB veteran, joked with manager AJ Hinch that he knows the difference between getting a day off for rest and getting benched.
Schoop has played more than 1,000 games in his career, so he’s been around long enough to understand. Hinch benched the 30-year-old in Thursday’s series opener against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park.
He returned to the lineup Friday.
“It was more of a mental day than a physical day,” Hinch said. “He didn’t need the day off. … Maybe his good spirit and good attitude will come out with a little bit more production.”
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Schoop is hitting .136 (12-for-88) with two doubles, one home run, five RBIs, three walks and 19 strikeouts in 23 games.
“The big leagues are good,” Schoop said. “But I’m good. It’s time for me to make adjustments and hits now. I got all my outs already. It’s time for me to get my hits and help my team win.”
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His slow start in 2022s his slow start in 2021, when he hit .190 (15-for-79) with one double, two homers, six RBIs, three walks and 25 strikeouts over his first 23 games. He finished the season with a .278 batting average and 22 homers, earning a two-year contract extension in August.
Schoop, known as a streaky hitter, isn’t concerned about his woes in 2022.
But he knows his production must improve.
“I have 80-something at-bats,” Schoop said. “I got like 500 more to go, so these 500, it’s my time. I got my outs already, so it’s my time to shine. Just gotta keep believing, working hard and going out there to compete and have fun. It’s going to come.”
Schoop has made several adjustments throughout his 23 games this season, often as a product of pressing for hits. After not being in Thursday’s lineup, he is going back to the basics in his pursuit of snapping the slump. He enters the game stuck in a 0-for-11 streak.
“Just see the ball and hit it,” Schoop said. “Get ready to see the ball.”
The lifetime .259 hitter has 981 career hits.
“I think everybody knows I can hit,” Schoop said.
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The Tigers have started Schoop in seven of the nine spots in the order: four times batting second, five in third, once in fourth, three in fifth, six in sixth, three in seven and once in eighth.
On Friday, Hinch penned Schoop into the No. 6 spot in the lineup against Astros right-hander Luis Garcia.
And Schoop feels confident he will find success.
“Once it clicks, I’m going to roll,” Schoop said. “It’s going to be tonight.”
Austin Meadows scratched
The Tigers scratched right fielder Austin Meadows with a non-COVID illness. Robbie Grossman shifted from left field to right field, while Willi Castro entered the lineup as the left fielder.
Meadows is hitting .284 with 10 walks and 13 strikeouts in 22 games. He could be available Friday as a pinch-hitter. Hinch won’t start Meadows on Saturday against Astros left-hander Framber Valdez.
“We put him in the lineup last night and into today,” Hinch said. “When he showed up to the ballpark, he didn’t feel well. We had him laying down in the training room and relaxing. We’ll see if he’s available later tonight.”
Who’s on first?
For the second time in five games, rookie first baseman Spencer Torkelson is riding the bench. He is hitless in his most recent 15 at-bats, along with hitting .091 (3-for-33) with four walks and 13 strikeouts over his past 10 games.
Torkelson, the No. 1 overall pick in 2020, is adjusting to the big leagues. The 22-year-old crushes fastballs but has a .129 batting average (without an extra-base hit) against breaking balls.
“Tork, again, is a step-by-step learning process for him,” Hinch said. “He’s going to be fine. He is fine. He did some early hitting. But it was more positive about Harold than it was any concern with Tork.”
Utility player Harold Castro, a left-handed hitter, took Torkelson’s spot as the starting first baseman for Friday’s matchup against Garcia. Across Garcia’s three-year MLB career, right-handers have hit .177 against him, while lefties hit .274.
Castro is riding a five-game hit streak.
“It’s a little bit about Harold,” Hinch said. “I mean, Harold finds a way to contribute every single time that I play him. Facing a guy like Garcia that can handle the right-handed hitters a little bit better, it’s a good matchup for him.”
Contact Evan Petzold at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers’ Jonathan Schoop says ‘it’s my time to shine’