Since Manny Machado, then one of the top prospects in baseball, was called up by the Orioles last August, he has blown through a bunch of firsts. First hit. First home run. First playoff game. First homer in the playoffs.
He will experience another today when he runs out on the orange carpet for his first career home opener.
“I’m excited for it. I’ve been looking forward to it. I’ve heard that it is one of the best home openers there is in baseball,” Machado said as he was digging through boxes and boxes of orange and black Under Armour cleats.
Machado made his Orioles debut at Camden Yards on Aug. 9, 2012 and he picked up two hits, one of which was a triple, and scored a run. He went on to bat .262 in 51 games with seven home runs and 26 runs batted in. The 20-year-old third baseman added a home run in the playoffs.
“It definitely helped out [getting that experience] last year,” Machado said. “I was up here for a little bit of time, and it definitely helps out on Opening Day to come out here knowing that Buck is going to have faith in me to go out and play every day. It was a good spring for me and it was a good couple of days in Tampa.”
First baseman Chris Davis says Machado has adjusted nicely.
“Manny is a professional,” he said. “He handles himself the right way. He doesn’t step on anybody’s toes. He knows where he should and shouldn’t be. I think the biggest thing for him to remember is to continue to play his game. He is obviously a very talented athlete, has some special abilities, and hopefully we’ll have a full year to look at that.”
Machado has been excellent defensively, but he has gotten off to a slow start at the plate, going 2-for-14 in the three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays. He has struck out four times, including twice yesterday. But he is back in the second spot in the batting order again today against the Minnesota Twins.
He says he appreciates the opportunity to hit high in the lineup, but it’s clear he is excited to be a part of it for good.
“I’m really looking forward to going out there and running out on that carpet,” he said before heading out for batting practice.