BRADENTON, Fla. - Manny Machado swiped second in Wednesday’s exhibition game at Ed Smith Stadium, which was noteworthy for a couple of reasons.
Machado has two surgically repaired knees and he’s never been a prolific basestealer, going 10-for-17 in three major league seasons.
Will he be running more often in 2015?
“I hope so, I hope so,” he said this morning. “My legs feel great. Every day they feel better.
“I just wanted to test it out and see if I was able to do that. I felt a little weird, but I guess it was just the first one of the year, the first one in a while, actually. I got picked off a lot last year, so that’s one of the main things I want to improve. I want to be a better, not basestealer, but baserunner. I’ve been trying to work on that with (Wayne) Kirby this spring and get better at it.”
One key for Machado, who’s 6-for-20 this spring, is the clear mind that he brings on the field. He’s not worried about the right knee anymore. He’s not wondering whether it will hold up as he attempts to steal.
“It’s more of whether I’m doing it right, if I’m taking the right first step, looking in at the catcher,” he said. “I’m not really thinking about my knee anymore. It’s more about if I’m doing it right or not, if I’m doing it the right way to get safe to second base, so whichever way I could get there quicker, that’s the way I’m going to try to do it.”
Machado has been sensational at third base, making one dazzling play after another, showing off his tremendous range and arm.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “We’ve been working at it. I still have a little ways to go, but I’m definitely feeling good. I’m seeing the ball well off the bat and I’m just doing me. I’m just going out there trying to catch the ball and make the outs and get ready for the season.”
Should he be getting ready to bat leadoff? Manager Buck Showalter has put him atop the order to get extra at-bats.
“Wherever Buck puts me, I’m going to play,” Machado said. “I’ve hit first for Buck before, I’ve hit second, I’ve hit seventh. Wherever he puts me, I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do.
“I can bunt. There’s a lot of things I could do hitting first, so we’ll just see what happens. Buck always throws curveballs to everybody and sometimes he blows by a fastball, so we’ll just have to wait and see what Buck wants to do with it.”
Asked the popular spring question about whether he’s right where he needs to be, Machado replied, “I’m about there. You can say that.
“I feel great. I’m doing everything. I’m stealing bases and hitting the ball well, playing good defense, doing everything I’ve got to do to get ready for the year. It’s been going pretty good, so hopefully I can continue doing it and get better as the spring goes along and get ready for the season, basically.”
Meanwhile, Paul Janish is batting first and serving as a designated hitter in today’s B game against the Pirates. Coming off surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow, Janish expanded his throwing to 120 feet yesterday and hopes to start firing the ball across the infield later this week.
“I went up to 120 yesterday for the first time and started simulating more of the movement, move my feet and throwing, kind of like doing it on a ground ball, so it’s not just like static throwing,” Janish said.
“The throwing program’s going really well up to this point. If we were going to have a problem, a significant problem, I probably would have had it by now. Cross our fingers, hopefully going forward, kind of continue to go smoothly, cruise through.”
Janish walked twice yesterday in the game against the Puerto Rico Development Program.
“The fact that they are allowing me to get out there physically was good,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll throw across the infield in the next few days, take some ground balls, that kind of stuff. And if I actually throw across the infield, realistically I’d like to play by the end of the week or the weekend. So, we will see what transpires. But it will be good to be out there for sure.
“Im DHing in the B game again today. Goal is to not get hit by any pitches.”
Janish was given No. 18 once he started playing in games after first being assigned No. 1. Christian Walker switched to No. 76.
“Up to this point, it didn’t really matter because yesterday was the first day I put a jersey on. It wasn’t that big a deal. I wasn’t tied to 1. It wasn’t real close to my heart,” Janish said.
“I told (Walker) yesterday I didn’t even realize it until I put the jersey on to go out to the game. I didn’t ask for 18. I don’t know how that got decided. Obviously, I wasn’t in that meeting.
“Whatever I get for No. 1, I’ll give to Walker. I’ll just be the middleman.”