SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Manny Machado reported to the Baltimore Orioles’ spring training camp on Saturday and was ready to move — to shortstop, that is.
As far as whether he’ll end up on another team anytime soon, the All-Star says he isn’t concentrating on that.
The 25-year-old was the subject of much trade talk over the offseason. Baltimore made it known that Machado, who is eligible for free agency following this season, could be available for the right price.
The Orioles didn’t find an acceptable trade partner, and now Machado, who has played third base for nearly all his major league career, will shift to shortstop, the position he grew up playing, at his request.
“At one point, it was kind of a little sad,” Machado said. “Thank God nothing went down and I was able to come back and see my guys that I’ve been with for seven years. It’s just going to be a great experience that I went through at that time —a learning experience this whole offseason— that I’m putting in the back of my mind going forward getting ready for this year.”
Machado was converted to third base when Baltimore called him up to the major leagues in August 2012.
Because the Orioles’ longtime shortstop J.J. Hardy became a free agent after last season, Machado made it be known that he’d like to play short again.
“It’s my natural position, that’s where I think I can be the best,” Machado said. “I know a lot of the talk has been (about) ‘Oh, is he going to be worth more there? More money.’ It’s not about the money. It’s not about going out there and signing a 20-year deal. This is where my heart has always been, this is what I want to do, this is what I’ve always wanted to do.
“This is what I came into this world to do was to play shortstop at the big league level. Finally (manager Buck Showalter) and the Baltimore organization are giving me the opportunity to go out there and do what I can at that position and show myself,” he said.
Machado, a three-time All-Star third baseman, has won two Gold Gloves there. Last season, he hit .259 with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs.
He’s likely to be one of the most sought-after of all free agents next offseason, and could again be the subject of trade talks if the Orioles have a poor start to the season.
“It shouldn’t be a distraction,” Machado said. “I don’t work in the front office. I’m not an agent. I play baseball. That’s the only thing I know how to do. It’s the only thing I really know how to do, to be honest — just go out there, play baseball and answer the questions I need to answer and go about my business.”
There haven’t been any extension talks between Machado and Baltimore for several years, but says he’d like to remain.
“I hope. Everybody hopes,” Machado said. “This is all I know. It’s a great organization that I’ve always played for and gave me an opportunity to come up here and play in the big leagues, but at the same time, there are some things that are out of my jurisdiction, out of my hands. What I can do is go out there and give them the best season I can and see what happens.”
(© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)