ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Manny Machado hasn’t batted higher than sixth in the majors and he’s never hit second as a professional except for exhibition games.
May as well do it on opening day. Against the reigning Cy Young Award winner.
When Orioles manager Buck Showalter posts his lineup later today, Machado will be listed as the No. 2 hitter against Tampa Bay Rays left-hander David Price. Nick Markakis most likely will bat leadoff.
“Buck does everything for a reason,” Machado said. “He’s trusting me and he has faith. He’s going to put the best nine guys out there, nine guys that are going to help this team win, so that definitely boosts my confidence going into opening day, knowing that your manager and your teammates have faith in you.
“I’m just really looking forward to opening day tomorrow.”
Surprised by that placement in the lineup?
“Oh yeah, definitely surprised,” Machado replied. “My first full season and I’m going to go out there as the second batter opening day. It’s going to be great. I’m excited for it and I’m excited to get the season going.”
Machado said he won’t really change his approach at the plate.
“You do have different responsibilities, but it’s still baseball,” he said. “You’re baseball players, we’re all baseball players, we’re all in the big leagues, so we know our responsibilities and what we need to do.”
A year ago, Machado was preparing for the opener at Double-A Bowie. He was the starting shortstop and the top position prospect in the organization.
Now he’s going to hit second against Price in the Orioles’ opener at Tropicana Field.
Asked if he could put into words everything he’s experienced in the last year, Machado said, “You can’t. You really can’t.”
“It’s just an experience you’re going to carry with you the rest of your career, your life,” he said.
“Going from Double-A last year, now I’m hitting second, opening day tomorrow. I’m in the big leagues. It’s a big step and I’m looking forward to it.”