BALTIMORE -- For the second time in his major league career, Jonathan Schoop is starting a game at shortstop, July 16.
Schoop started at short July 8 so Johnny Giavotella could play second, and that’s the case again.
In 2014, Schoop started 14 games at third base when Manny Machado was injured, but he hadn’t played anywhere but second until eight days ago in Minnesota.
With J.J. Hardy out with a broken right wrist, the Orioles are trying anything to get more offense from the shortstop position. Since Hardy was hurt June 18, Schoop, Paul Janish and Ruben Tejada have all started there.
“I want to get Johnny in there, and he’s only second base,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Jon’s capable. He’s handled the last time well. I know he looks forward to it. ... We know he’s got plenty of arm strength.”
Showalter didn’t want Schoop to be the designated hitter because that would mean additional moves. Showalter said Schoop has moved to the shortstop position regularly this season because of the number of shifts the Orioles use.
Even though Hardy was batting a career low .211 with 3 home runs and 21 RBIs before he was hurt, it was still more offense than Janish and Tejada have provided.
Janish, who was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk July 11, hit just .077 (2-for-26), and Tejada is hitting .231 with 3 RBIs in 25 games.
The timetable for Hardy’s return isn’t clear, but the broken rib he suffered June 11 and was discovered in a follow up exam on his wrist, has now healed, Showalter said.
“That’s progressing somewhat,” Showalter said about Hardy’s wrist.
Ryan Flaherty has been out since May 19 with a strained right shoulder. Had he been available, Flaherty, who was batting .233 with 3 RBIs in 13 games, would have played often in place of Hardy.
Showalter has resisted using Machado at short as he did last year when Hardy went on the disabled list with a broken foot. He felt Machado tired mentally from playing shortstop. Flaherty regularly played third when Machado moved over to short.
The Orioles don’t have an easy answer at shortstop for 2018. Hardy has a $14 million option that would have vested with 600 plate appearances. He could be signed to a lower cost contract, but he’ll be 35 years old August 19.
Showalter hasn’t discussed using Machado or Schoop at shortstop next season. The Orioles don’t have a high-ranking infield prospect at Triple-A Norfolk, though some in the organization are high on Double-A Bowie shortstop Erick Salcedo, who intrigued Showalter in some early spring games.
Ryan Mountcastle is batting .317 for High-A Frederick, but the 20-year-old is not close to being major league-ready, and could be moved off shortstop.
Flaherty is a free agent this year, and his return is still uncertain. He’s been with the Orioles this weekend.
“I’ve been throwing now for about a week-and-a half. I’m just trying to build my arm strength up,” Flaherty said.
It’s possible Flaherty could go on a rehab assignment later this week, and he’s hoping it won’t be a long one.
“It’s frustrating,” Flaherty said. “It takes a long time to heal.”
If Flaherty returns in the next few weeks, the Orioles will regain some versatility and a player Showalter considers trustworthy, but the identity of the 2018 shortstop is still far from certain.