The All-Star break officially begins today. Players can relax at home or, for a few, in Toronto before opening the second half at Rogers Centre. Eliminates the travel day. It’s a veteran move.
Manny Machado is on a different schedule, of course. He’s the one with the obligations, including today’s media session at Nationals Park, where at least he’s assured of finding a parking spot.
It’s going to be a circus-like atmosphere at Machado’s table. My sole responsibility is counting how many times he’s asked about playing third base instead of shortstop and whether the trade rumors and pending free agency have been a distraction.
Is he ready for it?
“No, no I’m not,” he said, laughing. “I’m trying not to think about it. I wish I could not talk, but it’s just mandatory and you kind of have to.
“I’m just trying to take it all in. Every time you go there, it’s truly a blessing just to be there as an All-Star and just look around and see all the All-Stars that have made it and are having tremendous years and tremendous careers. It’s always like the first time every time you step in there.”
Meanwhile, nothing is imminent regarding a trade, but one person familiar with negotiations said the process is “winding down.” The Dodgers, Phillies and Brewers currently are the top three finalists, in no particular order, though the unofficial rankings have be altered multiple times in the past week.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Cardinals were an aggressive suitor at the Winter Meetings, but it’s funny how situations can change. They just fired manager Mike Matheny and their hitting coaches and have no interest in trading for Machado.
The Cubs were viewed as a favorite at one time, but they’ve dropped back.
There’s little doubt that Machado will be a former Oriole by the end of the month and it could happen by the end of the break. He hit a home run yesterday in his first at-bat, which might have signaled his farewell to Camden Yards as a member of the home team.
“Just looking back at everything that’s happened this year, trade rumors, everything, just overall playing with this team has always been incredible,” he said. “Whether we’ve had our ups and downs this year, it is what it is. Me putting up the numbers I did at shortstop where people didn’t think I should have made the move in my walk year, but I did.
“I’m going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It’s just always a blessing. I thank God. I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization. I mean, it’s just been very incredible.”
Teammates just want to get away from everything for a few days and recharge the battery. The first half has been a grind. The losses and the uncertainty over the composition of the roster.
“If you’re playing good or bad, it’s great because it allows yourself to regroup,” said center fielder Adam Jones.
“It’s good both to get away from it physically and mentally. Just get a couple days away for everybody.”