Orioles' Manny Machado talks about the team's future. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun video)
There's no coincidence that inside the Orioles clubhouse at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, the lockers of Manny Machado and Robert Andino are right next to each other.
They are players on very different sides of their careers. Machado is one of the game's brightest young stars and one of the club's most popular players, before his 25th birthday. He's already a three-time All-Star, finished top 10 in American League MVP voting three times and has won two Gold Gloves, including one Platinum Glove as the league's top overall defender. And many believe the best is yet to come.
Andino also holds a special place in the hearts of Orioles fans, who can't forget his Game 162 heroics in 2011 to knock the Boston Red Sox out of postseason contention and create "The Curse of the Andino." After stops with three organizations, Andino is back with the Orioles on a minor league contract at age 32, hoping to get another chance at breaking through, although he'll likely start the season as the starting shortstop at Triple-A Norfolk.
But five springs ago, when Andino was the Orioles' starting second baseman and Machado had just finished his first full professional season at High-A Frederick, Machado and Jonathan Schoop would swoop in from minor league camp on occasion to work out.
Machado said Andino took him under his wing -- first in spring training and then when Machado earned a call-up from Double-A Bowie in August 2012; something that he will never forget.
"It's crazy how time goes," Machado said. "I look here by my side [now] and it's Dino. My first spring training was with Andino next to me and when I came up, he was the guy and he was the guy to talk to and he showed me the ropes a little bit."
Now, they are lockermates in spring training. And Andino said it's amazing to see how far Machado has come in recent years.
"Yeah I was kind of messing with him today a little bit, [telling him], 'Look at you [now],'" Andino said. "He used a Wilson [glove] when he first came up. I was telling him, 'You gotta use a Rawlings, man.' And he's got a [Rawlings] Platinum Glove [award] now. He's signed [an endorsement deal] with Jordan and all that. He's the man now. So I've just got to get back into it, fit back in again.
"This is their team, I'm just here trying to help them win a championship."