Bobby Dickerson talks about Manny Machado’s defense at third base

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce its Managers of the Year tonight on MLB Network.

Orioles skipper Buck Showalter won it last year in the American League, but he isn’t a finalist in 2015. The choice comes down to the Rangers’ Jeff Banister, the Astros’ A.J. Hinch and the Twins’ Paul Molitor.

My guess is Banister, though I’d lean more toward Hinch for taking a team predicted to lose just about every game and guiding it into the playoffs.

Manny Machado didn’t win a Silver Slugger Award or Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award and he isn’t a finalist for AL Most Valuable Player, but he earned his second Gold Glove this season. The honor came as no surprise to third base coach Bobby Dickerson, who works with the infielders and has been tutoring the former shortstop since the Orioles decided to move him to third base in 2012.

“I know being around him every day that he’s really impactful defensively,” Dickerson said. “You have to watch him. The 21-error total, the 19 at third base, that made me think that some people may go against him, but if you look at total chances (488), he was touching the ball a whole lot more than everybody else.”

Manny Machado throw white.pngNine of Machado’s errors at third base came in the first 38 games.

“I think there was some rust,” Dickerson said. “He came out of spring training and I know after two major knee surgeries and getting ready to start the season, the first thing is you just want him to feel healthy, so he went through spring training trying to do that.

“The season starts and it’s cold and it’s rainy and he’s trying to go through different things he was dealing with. Most of them were throwing the first month, or at least it felt like it. He had a couple easy plays that he normally doesn’t mess up, but for the most part I thought it was just going through the rust and knocking rust off and getting his confidence back.”

During his conference call with the media, Machado praised Dickerson multiple times and referenced how the coach “pushes” him.

“We get into a lot of fights and stuff, but I think he just always wants the best for me, and I’m grateful to have him by my side, pushing me every day to be the best third baseman that I can,” Machado said.

Asked how he can improve at third, Machado replied, “Just being in the moment. I think that’s the biggest key. Stay in the moment every pitch and every at-bat. I think that’s something that’s going to come with time. I think if I can get that down pat, I can finally make Bobby happy.”

Machado seemed to be hinting at those occasional moments when he gets bored at third.

“You watch him play, you know what he’s referring to,” Dickerson said. “He makes everything seem so easy and he plays at another level that I can only dream of playing at. I knew that I had no chance to play at that level, but if we can mix a little bit of, me and J.J. (Hardy) call it like a little ‘anxiety’ or whatever it is. ‘This could be the play, this could be the pitch.’ A little more of that alertness.

“We talk about it all the time. It’s playing every pitch. This pitch will make the difference in the game, this play will make the difference. What is this hitter trying to do? Will he bunt? Will this hitter try to hit against the shift? Process all those things prior to the pitch being made and compete that pitch. And that’s something that we’ve attacked and I stay on him about. And he’s right, we fight about it a lot.

“I’ll say, ‘Manny, you’re sleeping out there. Let’s go.’ And then he’ll make a great play that nobody else in the league will make. And I’m like, ‘So much for that.’ It doesn’t always back what I’m seeing and saying, you know?”

Machado still is growing into the position as he matures at the highest level. He made the jump from Double-A to the majors. He just turned 23 in July.

“I think of myself at 21, 22, 23. I was lost,” Dickerson said. “I mean, I was just in A ball at 21 and I came to Triple-A and I wasn’t even half as good as him and I was absolutely lost. Think of the stuff that’s put on this kid’s plate at 23. He’s an All-Star, the endorsements. There are so many different things going on in his life that I’m sure it can be overwhelming and a lot to handle.

“I think when he matures completely as a player and as a person, I think you’re going to see a superstar. We’ve already seen a superstar, but he can go to another level defensively and that’s something that I stay on him about. I say, ‘You’re already arguably the best defender in baseball. If we can somehow get you into every pitch, you’re going to go to another level that people haven’t even seen.’ “

Machado is working out at shortstop in Miami as he prepares for another season at the hot corner. He says that it improves his footwork. It also seems like a wise idea if he’s going to back up Hardy or shift to the position, as he did so often again this summer.

“I know in his mind he wants to play shortstop,” Dickerson said. “He gets bored at third base and he doesn’t always understand how many different ways he impacts the game at third base as much as he thinks he would be impacting the game at shortstop. He thinks (third) is more of a laid back position, but it’s really not. He’s at a hot position.”

A position where he’s collecting Gold Gloves.

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