Healthy Manny Machado playing with enthusiasm at O’s camp

SARASOTA, Fla. - It has been a welcome sight for the Orioles this year to see Manny Machado back at third base, healthy and playing with great enthusiasm.

“Just playing baseball. That is all it is,” Machado said simply.

Manager Buck Showalter put it this way after Machado led off Thursday’s game with a single and stole a base as part of a 1-for-4 day.

“I think Manny’s primed to have a good year. You can tell how good he feels. He’s playing with a certain recklessness that healthy people play with,” he said.

machado-swing-gray-sidebar.jpgAfter two knee surgeries, Machado said he feels 100 percent right now as he prepares for the 2015 season.

“Feels awesome to finally be healthy and feels good to be out there part of the team,” he said. “Just want to help this team do whatever we can and get back to where we need to be. I feel great. Having fun.

“I want to play 162 games and stay healthy. Want to be on the field every day.”

After being limited to 82 games last year, Machado said that made him realize how much he loves the game and how much he missed it when he was sidelined.

“It does,” he said. “Being away from it, you can take things for granted. Have to go out there and appreciate the things you have right now.”

When told he has looked this spring like the Machado that had a big 2013 season, he said, “I’m the same player, I’m Manny Machado. Nothing has changed. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve always done.”

Machado said the great chemistry that was prevalent with the team last year is back this year.

“Of course. That is a unique thing about this team,” he said. “We’re loose players. We have the same team chemistry and same thing going as last year. We keep everybody loose and that is why people enjoy being part of this organization. When it’s time to roll, we put on our game hats and play.”

At just 22 - he won’t turn 23 until July 6 - Machado has already been an All-Star and earned Gold and Platinum Gloves. He led the league with 51 doubles in 2013. He’s accomplished a lot already. But he still wants to take his game to a higher level.

“There is a lot to come. There is a lot to learn still,” Machado said. “This game, you learn something every day. You always have to keep working and learning. There is a long way ahead. I just have to keep my head focused, stay strong and keep looking forward.”

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