As Manny Machado appealed the five-game suspension he received Tuesday for throwing his bat in Sunday’s game against the Oakland Athletics, the Orioles prepared for life without the third baseman — regardless of whether the punishment is reduced — as well as attempting to make sure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.
Machado said he hopes he can reduce the suspension, which was handed down by Major League Baseball on Tuesday afternoon along with an undisclosed fine, through the appeal process. But it is possible that he could withdraw the appeal before he gets a hearing, which likely would happen next week. Because of the appeal, he played in Tuesday’s game against the Boston Red Sox at Camden Yards.
“It was coming,” Machado said. “Obviously, I don’t want to be down for five days. I need to try to help this team in any way. We’ve got a lot of tough games up in the road, and I need to be a part of this team. I’ve been a part of this team for a long time, and I don’t want to be down for too many days.”
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In determining the length of the suspension, MLB not only reviewed Sunday’s incident but also Machado’s actions in Friday’s game, when he confronted Oakland third baseman Josh Donaldson after what Machado perceived as a hard tag.
“You do the crime, you do the time,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “He understands it. We're going to miss him. … He learned he can't do what he did.”
Asked if he believed the ruling was fair, Machado said: “It is what it is. I don’t make that decision. That’s out of my hands. I can’t say how many games I’m going to be suspended for.”
Oakland Athletics left-hander Fernando Abad, who threw two inside pitches to Machado before the third baseman flung his bat down the third base line, will receive only a fine.
“He didn’t get suspended?” Machado said. “I had no idea. I don’t really care. He’s a part of the Oakland A’s organization. I’m a Baltimore Oriole. I did what I did, and he did what he did. We both have to pay for the consequences.”
Both acts were deemed intentional by MLB.
“It is what it is,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Nobody can judge intent. We all have some common sense, some more than others. We all know what was going on with Abad. How they chose to do it, they have precedent. That's why, when I talk about the five days, there really is no precedent. So you think it would be reduced, but maybe not. … I’m more concerned about my player and what’s going on with him than what the league tried to do with somebody else as they try to read people’s minds.”
There were no warnings issued at the time of Sunday’s incident, which likely played a role in Abad not receiving a suspension. Also, the location of Abad’s pitches wasn’t deemed as threatening as previous events that have led to suspensions.
Machado’s discipline was similar to the four-game suspension given to Boston’s Trot Nixon in 2002 when he tossed a bat at Tampa Bay Devil Rays right-hander Ryan Rupe.
Machado said he considered immediately serving the suspension — if he had, he would have started serving it Tuesday — but after consulting with the team and his agent, he decided to appeal.
“It’s crossed my mind,” Machado said of serving the penalty. “It’s a process. This is all a process. We’re just going to see where it goes, see where it takes us and take it day by day, how we’ve been doing it.”
Once Machado serves his suspension, the Orioles likely will need to add an extra infielder to the roster, which would also force them to play with a short bullpen. Ideally for the Orioles, Machado would serve a suspension around June 19, when they have a day off that would give their bullpen an extra day of rest heading into a three-game series on the road against the New York Yankees.
“Probably the most important thing for him right now is make sure he puts the club in a position in case we make an adjustment in our roster,” Showalter said. “It's a little short notice to get somebody here if he started [Tuesday]. I think that's his biggest concern, trying to see if he can help us lessen the blow on the impact on the roster.”
Showalter said it is possible that Machado drops the appeal.
“Personally, I would kind of let it go away [and serve the suspension],” first baseman Chris Davis said. “I’m not in his shoes. It’s easy to say that on the outside looking in. It is what it is. He knows he screwed up. Now, he has to serve his suspension. Now, we move on.”
When Machado debuted in the major leagues in August 2012 at age 20, people around baseball raved about how quickly the game came to him, as well as the maturity he displayed. In his first full major league season in 2013, he became an American League All-Star, led the AL in doubles and won the AL Platinum Glove for the league’s best overall defensive player as he emerged as one of the game’s top young stars.
That changed over the course of three days over the weekend, when Machado became involved in two disputes with the Athletics, culminating in the bat-tossing incident.