SARASOTA, Fla. - Third baseman Manny Machado reported to camp yesterday and stood at his locker for about 10 minutes this morning while the media peppered him with questions about the Orioles’ offseason, his optimism about signing an extension and predictions that the club will finish in last place.
“I’m just excited to be back,” he said. “Happy to see all my boys back, my former teammates back. The team that we have here. I’m excited for the year, I’m excited for myself, I’m excited for everybody in this clubhouse. It’s just a great start.
“Every spring training it’s just awesome to come back and see all the faces that you see, and see your brothers basically. This is family. I’m just excited to be back on the field, excited to be here. I’m just here to play baseball and hopefully go somewhere that we need to be.”
Here’s more from Machado:
On whether he’s surprised that Chris Davis, Darren O’Day and Matt Wieters are back: “You know what? I’m actually not. I know we had to do something. The front office has been working on making this ballclub the best team out there on the field. I think they’re accomplishing that. I don’t think we need new faces. When you have all these same guys coming back, the camaraderie we have in here and the ballclub we have here, I think it’s definitely a great ballclub and a great ballclub to be in. You bring those guys back who are going to help this team no matter what, it just makes this team much better, makes us stronger. We’re just looking forward to playing together again.”
On how much it bothered him to finish .500 last season: “We fell short. I think we had a great team. We were in first place for a while and we just came up short. We got tired toward the end. Our pitching staff fell off a little bit. We didn’t hit as much as we liked. We went through tough stretches where we shouldn’t have and those are things we learn from. I think we just look back at what we can take from last year, which is just go out there and keep playing. Don’t worry about the outcome. Just keep playing the game and hopefully we can learn from the things that we left short last year.”
On what Jonathan Schoop can accomplish if healthy all year: “You saw a little bit what he did last year. He has tremendous power, plays Gold Glove second base. The sky’s the limit with him, you know? He’s healthy, he’s excited to be back on the field. I think this is going to be a great year for him. He has myself over there at third base and he has one of the best guys next to him. I think he’s really talking more about staying in the weight room with us and doing all the things possible to stay on the field. At the end of the day, it’s all about staying on the field and producing for your team and I think that’s what he’s learning. If I can stay on the field, I’ll be able to do whatever I can out there and be the best player I can be.”
On how proud he is to put up career highs across the board: “I’m just excited to play baseball. I’m proud to be an Oriole, proud to go out there every day and have the opportunity to be myself and play the game that I love. I’m just excited to be back on the field and play third base, play every day. It’s a blessing. Not a lot of guys can go out there and say they put on a big league uniform, so I’m fortunate to go out there every day and put it on and do what I could do and be the best player that I can actually be.”
On establishing himself as one of the best third basemen in baseball: “I just play the game. If I’m established, I’m established. If I’m an All-Star, I’m an All-Star. Those are things you can’t control. I can’t control those things, but I can control going out there and playing every day and being the best player I can be. And be the best teammate I can be. I think that’s one of my goals this year, to just go out and be the best teammate I can be and help everybody in any way I can. Just go out there and play baseball. At the end of the day, we’re here to play baseball, we’re here to play for this organization, we’re here to win. And if we can’t do that, then we shouldn’t be here.”
On predictions that the Orioles will finish in last place: “For as long as I can remember, me playing here, I think it’s been the same thing every year. You guys suck, you guys are going to be in last place, you guys can’t compete with the Yankees, can’t compete with Boston, can’t compete with all these other teams in our division. But we made the playoffs (two times) in the last (four years) and we’ve gone to places where other teams haven’t gone. I think we just can’t think about all that stuff. We’ve got to go out there and play.
“I think we have a great ballclub here. We have the people we need to surround ourselves with. Our coaching staff does a great job preparing us to get where we need to be, the front office does what it needs to do to put the players out on the field that we need. I think we’ve just got to control what we can control, which is go out there and play every day. We’ve just got to unit as a team and play as a team and the sky’s the limit after that.”
More on the Orioles offseason moves: “They’re trying to keep everybody here. That’s good for me. I hope they keep me here for long term. But the case is, you can’t really sign everybody. You can’t bring everybody back. But it’s just part of the business, people you can bring back, people who you can’t, people who won’t be. But I think we’re making an effort of bringing everybody back, keeping the same clubhouse, the same core.
“It’s all about camaraderie. You put great people in the clubhouse, I think the clubhouse will be great. I think a lot of things will flow a lot easier. Things will go great out on the field. It just makes a lot of things easier. We have one of the best clubhouses in the game and I’m just fortunate to be part of it, and hopefully just keep being here for a long time.”
On his optimism about signing an extension: “There’s hope. That brings out hope. That was the biggest contract in the Orioles history, so there’s hope there. I know they’ve got the money for it. I know Peter (Angelos) is trying to do everything possible to bring a ring here. Whatever you’ve got to do to bring a ring here, you’ve got to lay it on the field. It just brings me hope that they’re trying to keep everybody here and hopefully they come up with something and we can make something happen.”
On whether playing 162 games again is a goal: “I hope. I’m going to do everything possible to play every game. It was a great accomplishment last year. I enjoyed it. It was awesome. I was able to say I was the only one to do it. As long as you go out there every day on the field, you’re able to do something. You might go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, but it’s just the beauty of the game. You could go 4-for-4 with four homers. It’s just giving the opportunity to do something well for your team, do something well for yourself. At the end of the day it’s a great accomplishment to say you played 162.”
On whether his body felt the strain of playing 162: “No. I play baseball. I mean, 150 or 162 is the same thing. When you get to that level of games, it’s all relative.”