Orioles third baseman Manny Machado won’t attend Saturday’s FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center, marking the second time in three years that he’s skipped the annual event. The club sent out an email this morning to alert fans who purchased autograph vouchers and offer refunds.
Three-fourths of last year’s starting infield won’t be in Baltimore this weekend. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop also informed the team that he isn’t going to attend. First baseman Chris Davis, whose wife, Jill, gave birth to twin girls Tuesday morning in Dallas, received permission from the Orioles to stay home.
Davis and closer Zach Britton weren’t included in the press release announcing FanFest details, including participants and the autograph stations. Britton is rehabbing from right Achilles surgery.
Former infielder and current MASN analyst Mike Bordick is unable to attend because of a family situation.
I’m told that Machado’s absence is due to a private matter, with no further details forthcoming. Nothing “serious,” according to one person in the organization, who added that it isn’t based on trade rumors that started at the Winter Meetings, Machado’s contract situation or the anticipated change in positions - hot topics that would have occupied much of his time this weekend.
However, his failure to attend is bound to create a distraction and has left the Orioles in scramble mode. Schoop’s decision compounds the issue, and there are plenty of individuals in the organization who are disappointed for the fans.
Autograph sessions requiring the purchase of vouchers have sold out. Machado was scheduled to sign with pitchers Brad Brach and Hunter Harvey at 11 a.m. and with Bordick and pitcher Tanner Scott at 3:20 p.m. He also would have met with the media inside the third-floor workroom.
Schoop was supposed to sign with pitching coach Roger McDowell and pitcher Miguel Castro at 12:40 p.m. and with bullpen coach Alan Mills and reliever Donnie Hart at 4:40 p.m. His day also was supposed to include a scheduled session with the media.
Machado also missed the Dec. 12, 2015 FanFest, held at an earlier date than usual due to a scheduling conflict at the Convention Center, because he wanted to be with close friend and brother-in-law Yonder Alonso for the birth of his first child.
The absence chafed some members of the organization, which tried to accommodate his schedule and coax him into participating.
Asked during a morning Q&A forum about attempts to sign Machado to an extension, Showalter quipped, “Well, if he was here, we could talk about it.” Executive vice president Dan Duquette later confirmed that talks were held but didn’t advance.
Machado is approaching free agency with no further attempts to negotiate a new contract, and potential trade partners haven’t met the Orioles’ demands that include two young controllable starting pitchers. He’s been working out in Miami, taking ground balls at shortstop in anticipation of a move to his original position.
Schoop and pitcher Kevin Gausman are the only arbitration-eligible players who haven’t signed for 2018.
Schoop also missed last year’s FanFest due to a death in the family.