After a winter of workouts where he put on a few pounds to get stronger, shortstop Manny Machado describes himself as "super excited" for his first full season with the Orioles.
Machado, the third pick in round one of last June's draft, spent time working out this winter near his Miami home where his workout partners sometimes included the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez.
"This whole winter I've been here in Miami working out at the University of Miami with my trainer, Monica Swasey," Machado said by phone Thursday. "I have been hitting the weights. I hit them hard and got bigger and I worked on my footwork and got a little faster. About a month ago I started catching grounders and picked up on some baseball activities.
"My goal was to gain at least 10 pounds. I was at 180 or 185 (last year) and gained about 10 pounds this offseason."
Machado said he's been told about the rigors of a 140-game minor league season that he will face come April, when he is likely to begin the year as Delmarva's shortstop.
"It's a long season and with the body I had before, it's a grind out there. It would be harder to last for 140 games with that body type instead of having more muscle and being stronger," he said.
Some have made comparisons between Machado and Rodriguez and this winter Machado finally met the Yankees star.
"I met him this offseason and we have worked out some together. I have learned a lot from him, his work ethic and it's just a great person to be around. He's attained so much in his career, it's a great opportunity (to be around him)."
The 18-year-old Machado went 1-7 with a homer in two games late last year with the Gulf Coast O's, then batted .345 without a homer and with three RBI in seven games with Aberdeen.
"It helped me a lot. It was good for me to play those games," he said. "I got to be on a road trip and feel like what it's like to be away from home. I think playing those games will help me this year.
"I saw some good pitching, it's a lot different from high school ball. Now I have an idea of what is coming and I know what to expect now. I'll be ready this season."
Machado's workout partners this winter also included fellow Miami products Yonder Alonso of the Reds, Jon Jay of the Cardinals and Danny Valencia from the Twins. He also was joined by Mariners minor league catcher Steven Baron and his best friend, David Vidal, a Reds minor league pitcher.
"They have helped me with the mental part of the game and I've learned a lot from those guys. They've given me a heads up on what I will be seeing this season.
"They talked to me about staying focused and staying humble. Just work hard and give 110 percent every game you are out there," Machado added.
While position players are not due to report to the Orioles minor league camp before March 10, Machado said he may report to the Twin Lakes facility next week. For now, the club has not told him what uniform he will be wearing come opening day.
"We have not talked about where I will be playing. It's their decision. Wherever they put me, I'll go out and give 110 percent. My goal is to make it to the show as quickly as possible. To do that, I have to work hard and stay dedicated."
Coming later today: I'll post more Machado quotes and get his thoughts on his goals for this year and his take on being ranked as baseball's 14th best prospect this week by Baseball America.
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