Machado keeps stating his position preference for free agency

In case anyone has been looking the other way or dealing with a severe case of clogged eardrums since, oh, around the first day of spring training, Manny Machado views himself only as a shortstop and doesn’t want to go back to third base unless he tripled.

Manny-Machado-hand-up-white-sidebar.jpgHere’s a partial list of other things Machado doesn’t want to do:

* Keep answering questions about whether he’d go back to third base.
* Be 40 games below .500.
* Wear a boa constrictor as a scarf.
* Scarf down a boa constrictor.
* Keep answering questions about whether he’d rather stay at shortstop.
* Walk a tight rope above a pool of sharks.
* Walk a tight rope above Bartolo Colon in a pool wearing a speedo.
* Keep answering questions about which position he wants to play.
* Pour scalding-hot coffee down his pants.
* Pour ice coffee down his pants.
* Keep answering questions about shortstop or third base while not wearing pants.
* Get a haircut.

Machado doesn’t hold 10-5 status and can’t refuse a trade. He goes where he’s told and plays which position he’s told. His stated preference to stay at shortstop, his natural position that was withheld from him until J.J. Hardy left, pertains to free agency. That’s when Machado can call his shot.

And he’s not throwing away his shot.

No team is going to resist acquiring Machado because it can’t satisfy his shortstop craving. He doesn’t wield the power to force its hand or stay in Baltimore.

His latest stance on the subject, in front of his locker while the New York media staked him out following a 10-2 loss in Game 2, might have given the impression that he was talking trade scenarios instead of free agency. But he wasn’t lumping them together. This was Machado, forced again to remind everyone that he loves being a shortstop and hopes to retire as one.

The four-time All-Star has been a good sport about it and more cooperative with the media than at any point in his career. He was never an issue, but his accessibility has increased and he’s exhibited a tremendous amount of patience at home and on the road.

It can still be tested on occasion - such as the period immediately following a doubleheader split and after he already spent 10-15 minutes earlier in the day surrounded by media at his locker. And after he said he’d talk about the game and instead was prodded to respond to the latest rumors.

Maybe I can assist him here.

Machado is a shortstop in his mind and his heart and his soul. And he’s going to play shortstop somewhere in 2019 and beyond. Where he plays after the Orioles trade him is dependent on the team shelling out the prospects for him.

The Dodgers retain “favorite” status, according to multiple sources, but I’m wondering how they intend to complete a trade while withholding pitchers Walker Buehler, Yadier Alvarez and Dustin May, infielder Gavin Lux and outfielder Alex Verdugo.

I’ve heard that one proposal from the Orioles, and it didn’t require them to get down on one knee - though it might have gotten them a ring later - involved May, Verdugo and catcher Will Smith.

May is 20 and pitching at Single-A Rancho Cucamonga. Some others who peak their interest also are found in the lower levels of the minors, suggesting that the Orioles aren’t demanding major league-ready arms, which seemed to be the case at the Winter Meetings. However, they like Brewers prospect Corbin Burnes and he’s pitching for Triple-A Colorado Springs - and also reportedly off-limits.

Meanwhile, the Orioles’ rookie starters in Monday’s doubleheader are back at Triple-A Norfolk. Jimmy Yacabonis returned as the 26th man and Yefry Ramírez was optioned yesterday.

Rookie reliever Ryan Meisinger also was optioned yesterday and the Orioles recalled left-hander Donnie Hart and selected reliever Jhan Mariñez’s contract from the Tides. So much for getting younger!

But seriously, it’s bound to happen as we cruise past the non-waiver trade deadline. The Orioles started Yacabonis and Ramírez out of need, but there’s also something to be said for the injection of youthful energy into a last-place team.

“You’re on the road and they’re in the locker room long before anybody else gets there,” said manager Buck Showalter. “I saw in Minnesota, out throwing a football around in the outfield, just running around. You don’t want to take away their glee or whatever you want to call it of being in the big leagues for the first time and trying to take this opportunity and run with it. It’s fun to watch.

“You see the nervous energy they have. I mean, Yacabonis was sitting in the dugout and he was loose in the dugout long before the anthem was even close to being played. He did well. It’s fun to watch.

“There are some other ones down there, too. But you hate ... not hate, but you wish there was another reason why. But they’re capable.”

No team wants to bottom out, be ravaged by injuries and constantly resort to minor league call-ups before the All-Star break. That’s not how it’s designed in spring training.

“In a perfect world you bring in one a year, maybe two, where they don’t feel like it’s the weight of the world on them,” Showalter said. “You’re able to share that with somebody else. But it doesn’t always work out that way, unfortunately.

“We’ve got two or three guys down there we’d really like to take a look at.”

Infielder Steve Wilkerson was one of those players, but he’s on the disabled list with a strained oblique.

“We’ll get a look at him,” Showalter said. “I think he’ll be back by hopefully the first of the month. Maybe sooner.”

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