Jetlag and teammates’ barbs aside, Tigers’ Schoop happy to be home

Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — As if the jetlag coming back from Taiwan wasn’t bad enough. Jonathan Schoop had to endure the good-natured slings and arrows from teammates, and even the manager.

“Miggy called me this morning,” said Schoop, whose Team Netherlands was bounced early from the WBC Pool A in Taiwan, a fact Cabrera knew all too well. “He said, ‘Where you at?’

“I said, ‘I’m in Lakeland, where do you think?’ And he said, ‘You’re home already?’”

Ouch. Cabrera is in Miami, where his Team Venezuela will play Team USA on Saturday.

“It’s OK,” Schoop said. “I’m easy. I go easy with everybody.”

Schoop had to endure the barbs of manager AJ Hinch at the team’s daily meeting Thursday, too.

“We did make a mockery of it,” said Hinch, referencing Schoop’s 1-for-13 performance in the tournament. “We went over it at-bat by at-bat. He said he was cheated out of one walk. I asked him what the other issues were.”

How did Schoop react?

“He sat there and wore it,” Hinch said, laughing.

“He knows he can pick on me and I’m not going to get mad,” Schoop said. “We’re just having fun as a team, just joking around and keeping it loose.”

It’s also, Schoop knows, done out of love. Schoop, as Hinch said, was missed during the two weeks he was gone. Now, the mission is to use the next two weeks to get him game-ready to start the season.

“Right now, he’s just trying to figure out what day it is,” Hinch said.

True story. Getting there, he flew from Tampa to Los Angeles (five hours) and then from Los Angeles to Taiwan (14.5 hours) and then took a 90-minute drive to the team’s hotel. Coming back, he flew from Taiwan to Korea (seven hours), then from Korea to Atlanta (15 hours) and then Atlanta to Tampa. And then confront the daily horror that is a car ride on I-4 from Tampa to Lakeland.

Brutal. Hinch will give Schoop the weekend to re-acclimate. Schoop will be the designated hitter against the Yankees on Friday and then take live swings on the back fields Saturday and Sunday before re-entering camp to play full-time on Monday.

“I need to ramp up a little more,” Schoop said. “But, I’m ready to play baseball. I just need a couple of more at-bats and get my feet down a little more. Just see some more pitches and do some damage before I go up north.”

Schoop, a 10-year veteran, isn’t going to sweat his statistics from the WBC or from spring training. As he said, this is the time to get ready for the season. Coming off the worst offensive season of his career was tough, he said, but it doesn’t change his process.

“I know I can hit,” he said. “It’s going to come. I don’t think I can do worse than last year. I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I’ve been good, I’ve been OK and I’ve been bad. Last year was bad, but it’s over.”

Ibanez update

Infielder and Team Cuba member Andy Ibanez (finger) was back at TigerTown Thursday going through a battery of medical tests.

“If he’s cleared, we will get him back in a work group (Friday) and maybe in one of the games over the weekend,” Hinch said.

The Tigers play games in Jupiter (Cardinals) and Nationals (West Palm Beach) Saturday and Sunday. Team Cuba’s next game in the WBC is Sunday.

“We will evaluate whether or not it’s best for him to rejoin Cuba or stay with us,” Hinch said. “But, their first game just happens to be in West Palm. You can draw your own conclusions there (laughs).”

Ibanez, in camp as a non-roster invitee, is in the battle for one of the utility spots.

Sick to your stomach

Hinch was watching the game live when Mets and Team Puerto Rico closer Edwin Diaz collapsed during the team’s celebration Wednesday night.

Hinch was watching the game live when Mets’ and Team Puerto Rico closer Edwin Diaz collapsed during the team’s celebration Wednesday night.

“You just get sick to your stomach for everybody involved,” Hinch said.

Diaz, it was reported Thursday, suffered a tear in his patellar tendon and will require surgery.

“I feel for him and I feel for the league,” Hinch said. “The WBC has nothing to do with it. You could do what he was doing anywhere. I see more activity in our clubhouse that you would feel would risk injury more than what he was doing on the field.

“It was such a random act.”

Around the horn

… Outfielder Matt Vierling (knee) continues to put in full days of baseball activity. He will take a batch of live at-bats on the back fields Saturday and Sunday and could return to game action Monday.

Twitter: @cmccosky

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