Machado playing shortstop in 2018 (and other notes)

Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed today that Manny Machado will go into spring training as the starting shortstop and Tim Beckham will play third base.

Showalter told the media assembled on the third floor of the Baltimore Convention Center for the annual FanFest.

Machado-Throws-Gray-Sidebar.jpgShowalter said the plan could change later, but this is how the players will be positioned. He indicated that Beckham preferred to stay at shortstop, but Machado wanted to move over and it’s his natural position.

More on that later.

Showalter expressed his disappointment in Jonathan Schoop’s decision to skip FanFest, saying the second baseman got bad advice from his agent. He pretty much excused Machado, suggesting it was a legitimate reason.

The early questions from season ticket holders to executive vice president Dan Duquette had more of an edge than past years.

Duquette and Showalter spent 30 minutes on the main stage. The subject of Machado and Schoop skipping the event came toward the end.

“As far as Manny and Jon go, obviously we’re disappointed they’re not here,” Duquette said. “They’re a key part of our team and we did talk to them about the merits of being here and being available to the fans, but they’re not here. That’s all we really have to say about it. We did make an effort and encourage them to come here.

“They add a lot to our team. They’re two of our best players. Schoop, in particular, had a great year. He was our player of the year and hit more home runs than any second baseman we ever had. He hit 32. Obviously, we’re looking forward to having him back. He had a terrific year. Very dependable kid. He and Manny when they turn the double play, that’s one of the highlights of my day, when they throw the ball around the horn. I mean, those guys are really entertaining players. We’re looking forward to having both of them back.”

Duquette repeated that he expects Machado to be on the club on opening day. Machado might have been traded if the Orioles received a return similar to what the Braves got for Jason Heyward.

A few other early nuggets:

* Closer Zach Britton will begin rehabbing in Sarasota on Feb. 11. He’s no longer wearing a walking boot and is coming along nicely following Achilles surgery.

* Showalter said pitcher Hunter Harvey could help the Orioles later in the summer.

* The Orioles have reached out to utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, though it sounds like there’s nothing hot at the moment.

* Ryan Mountcastle will be in big league camp and continue to play third base. He’s expected to return to Double-A Bowie.

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