By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
11:17 PM EDT, June 9, 2014
After apologizing to his Orioles teammates during a players-only meeting Monday, third baseman Manny Machado made a public apology for his actions in Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Oakland Athletics.
Machado said he allowed his “emotions to get the best of me” when he let go of his bat and it flew down the third base line, prompting both benches and dugouts to clear for the second time in the three-game series.
In a recorded interview on the club-owned Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, Machado said he was sorry for what happened Sunday. He was not made available to other media until after Monday's game.
After “seeing the replay over and over again, I definitely want to apologize.” Machado said in the MASN interview. “I want to apologize to all my teammates, my coaching staff, the entire Orioles organization and Oakland, and to our fans for the way I acted and overreacted on that.”
With the Orioles trailing 10-0 in the eighth inning Sunday, Machado's bat flew from his hands during a second straight low-and-inside pitch from Oakland left-hander Fernando Abad. The bat twirled down the line toward third baseman Alberto Callaspo, but did not hit anyone. Replays showed that Machado swung his bat late and nowhere near the pitch. After the game, Machado said he let go of his bat accidentally.
Machado and Abad were ejected and face suspensions that likely will be handed out Tuesday.
In the television interview, Machado said he apologized to the entire team for his actions.
“I went out there and apologized to all of them,” Machado said. “They know who I am. I want to apologize to all the fans, too, and the organization. This is not the way we play baseball around here. We're just going to have to put this behind us and bring back the Oriole Way.
“Just looking over the replay, it was a frustrating weekend. We were playing against one of the best teams in Major League Baseball. We're trying to make the playoffs. We're trying to win a World Series, and it was a frustrating weekend. I just let my emotions get the best of me.”
While Machado was apologizing to the team, Orioles manager Buck Showalter defended the 21-year-old in his pregame media session.
“I think we all have challenges along the way in life,” Showalter said. “Manny has had a lot of things thrown at him, no pun intended, that he hasn't had in his life. So there are some challenges that he's facing that he's going to deal with, that we're going to help him deal with. I'm hoping, in the long run, it will make him stronger.”
To Showalter, clubhouse chemistry is paramount for success. And he always has trusted his veteran players to keep others in line. He said several of his veterans sent him text messages Sunday night about how to handle the situation.
“I can show you my phone from last night, about midnight,” Showalter said. “Our guys care, and they care about Manny. They care about what he can do to help our team, too. I think we all, at some point, start reflecting on the impact our actions have on some people — not only Baltimore Orioles people, but Baltimore Orioles fans.”
Inside the Orioles clubhouse, teammates expressed their support for Machado.
“I know for sure it's not going to happen anymore,” said infielder Jonathan Schoop, who is Machado's best friend on the team and who has been a teammate of his since 2011, on Low-A Delmarva. “Right now, he's just got to face it and go through it and make sure it never happens again. He's not that guy. I know everybody is writing things about him, but he's not that guy. I don't think he'd want to hurt anybody.”
Fielding all questions from the entire media group after Monday's game, Machado said his apology to his teammates during the pregame meeting was received well.
“You go up there and say what you are feeling,” Machado said. “I went up there and apologized to everybody here. … Obviously, in situations like that, you get mad at, not the situation, but how it happened. We’re all on the same page now. They all have my back, and that’s the only thing that matters. From now on, we will learn how to deal with it in different ways and how to approach it.”
As for Machado's public apology, the team chose to conduct it in a controlled environment during a three-minute interview on MASN.
On Friday, Machado took exception to the way Oakland's Josh Donaldson tagged him between second and third base. Machado stumbled backward and fell before jumping up to confront Donaldson.
Tensions escalated again Sunday, when the Athletics were angry that two of Machado's backswings hit catcher Derek Norris in the head. Norris was forced from the game after the second one, and Oakland players believed Machado didn't show concern either time.
“I want to apologize to Derek,” Machado said. “That wasn't intentional. I didn't realize how hard I had hit him with the bat. I have a tough follow-through, a really long follow-through. At that point, with how the weekend was going, I didn't think he would have cared about whether I had showed emotion for him.”
Asked whether he thinks there will be carryover when the Orioles travel to Oakland in their first series after the All-Star break next month, Machado said he hoped all parties could move on. Machado said he would make amends personally when the Orioles face the Athletics.
“I apologized to everyone and anyone,” Machado said. “I didn't mean to do anything bad or anything, there was no intention. And when I see them again, I will get somebody and apologize, that’s what it is. We are all grown men in here. That’s something that I shouldn't have done, and now I have to deal with the consequences.”
For a player who burst on the major league scene last season and became an All-Star in his first full year with the Orioles -- earning the American League Platinum Glove and leading the AL in doubles -- Machado told reporters after the game that he hopes to emerge from the experience better.
"This game is hard,” Machado said. “You learn a lot of things. You see a lot of things. When things happen like this, you’re definitely going to learn. It’s going to make me a better player, and it’s going to make me a better man. Looking forward, I hope I learn from it and don’t make the same mistake.”
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