Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Tuesday that he is not suggesting that third baseman Manny Machado is headed for the minor leagues any time soon.
But he did make it clear that Machado would be a candidate to be sent to the minors if he is not playing at a major league-caliber -- the way he did in 2012 and 2013. Duquette made comments in the past two days to SI.com and Fox Sports that demoting Machado, who has been fined and suspended for five games by Major League Baseball after throwing a bat in Sunday’s game against the Oakland Athletics, was an option.
Duquette clarified his comments before Tuesday's game against the Boston Red Sox.
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“Actually I said that the kid established himself as a big leaguer last year. He needs to make a living at the big league level, and if he can’t, it’s an option to send him to the minors,” Duquette said. “I think Manny needs to re-establish himself as a big leaguer this season. And I hope he can do it and it is with us.”
Machado has initially appealed the suspension -- though the appeal could be dropped before a potential hearing next week. And Duquette stressed that Machado must serve the suspension in the majors, so a minor league demotion is not impending.
Duquette also pointed out that, “Any player who has options can be optioned to the minor leagues. Any player.”
Still, it would be a huge surprise, and obviously would have an intended message, if Machado was moved off the Orioles’ 25-man roster. He made the American League All-Star team last year and won a Platinum Glove as the AL’s best defender.
“He came up at 20 because he has outstanding skills and played well,” Duquette said. “He’s still only 21 years old. We need to keep that in mind.”
After missing a month while recovering from offseason knee surgery, however, Machado is hitting just .229 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 35 games heading into Tuesday. He said he wasn’t aware of Duquette’s original comments.
“It is what it is. I haven’t been swinging the bat well,” he said. “I haven’t been performing where I’ve been performing and whatever consequences have to be taken by that are out of my hands. I can’t do anything about it.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he is not currently considering a demotion of Machado, but he didn’t want to respond further.
“I don’t foresee that, but who knows what the future brings?” Showalter said. “I think where he is right now and where we’re trying to get, I don’t think it behooves him to have his field manager talking about that, and I’m not. I’m trying to get him ready. “