Orioles prospect Manny Machado, who will make his major league debut tonight when he starts at third base and hits ninth, met with the media before tonight's game. Here's a transcript of the his interview heading into his big night.
How did you get the news?
“I found out last night, coming off the bus, going into the team hotel. Had the skip call me over and give me the great news. [I was] very surprised. It wasn’t even crossing my mind, that I was getting called up and when he told me I was just in shock.”
How comfortable are you playing third base?
“I’m very comfortable out there. Every day I try to be proactive, I try to take a couple ground balls at third base after I catch my grounders at short. I am pretty comfortable out there. So, I’m really looking forward to it.”
What will be the biggest transition in moving to third?
“Just the comfort level, getting used to playing third base every day, it’s a different position. Shortstop you are captain of the team. You are the leader out there. And third base you are kind of still, not as much movement going on.”
You spent a lot of time in big league camp this spring training and you’ve been around a lot of major leaguers. Does that help making the adjustment to the big leagues?
“Oh, yeah. It has helped me. They talk to me every once in a while, I try to keep in touch. And they give me advice on baseball and on the field and off the field problems. It’s great to have that on my side.”
How excited are you?
“I’m super excited. I’m beyond excited.”
How was it walking into the Orioles clubhouse today?
“It was great. Everybody came up to me and congratulated me. It was just a great feeling. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time now. And it’s, finally, it’s here. This is the highest level but I am still going to go out there and try to play my game. Just go out there and have fun, and not put too much pressure on myself. Just do me. “
How did you see yourself grow up playing the last few years in the minors?
“Yeah, it’s a tough adjustment. The biggest one was living on my own, away from home. And I’ve taken that pretty well. And talking to these older guys down in the Minor Leagues you really learn how to mature yourself and how to go about your business”.
Everywhere you’ve been, you’ve been the top prospect and you’ve been depended on to do a lot of things. You join this team in a pennant race. Does that help ease the pressure?
“A little bit. I’m just trying to go out there and play. I’ve always been a top prospect and here I’m just a regular third baseman. A young, 20-year-old trying to make it in the League and play and stay here. So, yeah I think it will be a little easier to go out there and go and have fun.”
Who was your first call to?
“My mother. Yeah they will be here. “
When you were drafted, was your goal to get to the majors around this time?
“I kind of envisioned it around this time, maybe September callup I was aiming for. But I didn’t really set any goals. My major goal was just to learn and do the experience in the Minor Leagues.”
What does it say that the Orioles are bringing you up in a playoff hunt?
“It means a lot. It means Buck has faith in me and he has trust in me that I can go out there and try to help this team win.”
Did you expect this call up given your recent offensive outburst?
“I wouldn’t say that. The whole [year] I’ve done above-average than what I think people expected me to do. And the last week that I’ve had, I’ve had a good week and I got called up. So it’s pretty great.”
How much will you rely on J.J. Hardy at shortstop?
“A lot. He’s been around this league a long time and he knows hitters and he knows how to play the game so any I need I can go to him. He’s going to have to teach me how to play the game and how to position myself out there and how to play the game.”
Are you comfortable with that, with asking for help?
“Oh yeah, I’m very comfortable with that.”
When you were taking pregame ground balls at third at Bowie, what were you working on?
“Working every day, it’s something you have to do in this game. You have to keep working at something. You’re not perfect at everything so you always have to find something to do and get better at your weaknesses. I just tried to go out there and fix something. If I made an error on one play, I’d go out there and catch 10 more ground balls on that certain play.”
Did taking those ground balls give you a comfort level?
“Yeah it did, just to catch them off the bat and see how I react and my reaction time on that. It’s different than catching ground balls from a coach.”
Do you think you’ll get butterflies tonight?
“Everybody should be nervous in their first game. I’m 20 years old, but I think after that first pitch is thrown those butterflies will go away.”
Is the toughest adjustment between the majors and at third going to be getting used to the reaction time at third?
“That’s one of the big things I’m preaching about. The reaction time is a lot different around here than in the minor leagues. That’s going to be a tough adjustment to make, but that’s why I’m here. I’m going to go out there and try my hardest and work.”
This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. How do you want to take this night in?
“Just go out there and be myself. Do what I’ve been doing the last two weeks and the last two years. Just be myself and just go out there and have fun.”
How many people will you have here tonight?
“Six. My mother, aunt, sister, nephew, girlfriend and uncle.”
Can you talk more about calling your mother, Rosa Nunez, to tell her the news?
“Well, I was kind of in shock when Gary Kendall told me I was going up to the big leagues. I didn’t know what to say. I was tingling everywhere. Then once it settled in, I made a phone call to my mom and [said], ‘You know, you have to look for a flight to come up to Baltimore.’ She goes ‘Why?’ ‘Well, I’m going up to Baltimore. I’m going to play tomorrow, third base.’ She thought I was lying. She was like, ‘Are you serious or are you joking?’ ‘No I’m serious. I got called up.’ We just shared that moment together and it was a good feeling.”
Did you talk to your uncle, because I know he kind of taught you the game?
“Yeah , I talked to him right after. He was just crying. It was just an exciting moment just to hear him cry. This is what I’ve worked for my whole life, this is what I’ve dreamed about my whole life. And now this moment has come, so now it’s just a great feeling.”
How closely have you been following the team?
“Pretty close. Every time we come into the clubhouse the game is on, either in the clubhouse or the coaches office. So we’re always checking up on the Orioles and seeing how we’re doing.”
You’ve mentioned about wanting to have fun. Are you concerned about having information overload because of how many people want to help you with this transition?
“Not really. Everybody does want to help me and they’re going to try to give be bits and pieces about the game and what I should do. I’m just going to take it in and learn from that. They’ve been up here for a while. They have the experience, so I’m going to have to soak it in and learn from them.”