When Manny Machado was pulled after the fourth inning against the Texas Rangers on July 15, it was the last time he wore an Orioles jersey at Camden Yards.
Since then, he’s played in the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres, but this is the first time he’s returning to Camden Yards. He’s back, but he’s wearing Padres blue instead of black and orange.
The Orioles held a news conference for Machado, filled with the faces of reporters he greeted by name. But he walked over from the visitors clubhouse at Oriole Park, the opposite side of the park he was used to.
Now that you’re here, what’s this day like for you?
A little weird, a little weird. This is a place I called home for a long time. Coming in here, coming to a hotel, not my home, coming to the opposite side of the clubhouse, it's a little different. But it feels good, feels like it's home. I'm excited to be back, excited to see the fans out there and take third base again, like I did for a long time. So it's exciting to be back here. It's something that I called home for seven years, and just a lot of emotions are running through right now.
You’re nervous. You’re never nervous.
I'm never nervous, I know, but I guess it's like a weird nervous in a way. It's a different nervous. Like I said, it was always coming into the same clubhouse, walking in through that same door, parking in that same parking spot, taking that same route to the baseball field every day, and it was just all different today.
What do you expect from today?
I don't expect anything. I don't know. We'll see what happens. I know it's going to be, it's going to be a lot different because everything's been different so far. I'm just excited to take that field again, just playing baseball, going out there. It’s going to bring back a lot of memories.
You mentioned a lot of great memories. Did you have any favorite ones?
There’s so many, there’s so many. We had a lot of good ones here. Obviously, the best one was my first game, my first career hit, my first home run, winning in the postseason that year. We had so many great memories here while I was here with Adam [Jones], [Jonathan] Schoop, [Chris] Davis, [Mark] Trumbo, Nick [Markakis]. We had so many great memories here. They’re always going to be in the back of my mind, the back of my heart. It’s all great ones.
Did the way that it ended detract in any way from those memories?
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No. I mean, memories will always be memories. We had a lot of great times here, built a lot of great relationships. You know, there’s always the business side of things that I’ve learned, and you can’t control. We just have to learn from them, just go about your business. But we have endless relationships with guys that I’ve played with here — Adam, Schoop, Markakis, Davis, you know, there are so many relationships that I’ve built here that go above baseball, go above coming to this field every day. Those are memories that you never forget. Those are relationships that you grow with. Great friends that I still talk to this day. I think that’s more than baseball, and those are the relationships and the things that we love about this game, that you get to build those types of relationships.
Is it hard to come back and see Baltimore as the worst team in baseball?
There’s always times that you’ve got to turn the page and move on to the next type of process. You know, they’re in the process now of getting back to the organization and getting back to those prospects that we came up, like myself and Schoop. You know, those are all just processes of baseball that you have to evolve with and continue to grow with. You know, putting a different uniform on today and stepping onto that field on the other side is going to be a little different and weird, but you know, I’ve got to try and win, try to take my young team that we have over there, young group, to the playoffs, hopefully, like we did here in Baltimore. I feel like we have that same group that we came up with. Obviously, [Fernando] Tatís is in my shoes at that point, and I’m in Adam’s and Markakis’ shoes on this side of it. But I think we have that same group and mentality to go out there and try to win some games. But I think we’re in a good spot with the team we have now. I’m sorry Baltimore, but we’re going to have to try and win these next couple games.
Was it easier to leave by trade than through free agency?
I guess so, yeah. I would say so, just because I didn’t make the choice. It was made for me. So it makes it a little easier. They just ship you away, and you’re going somewhere else, across the country, and trying to meet new faces and new everyone, and it’s hard. But I don’t think any of the choices are easy. I think when you’re here for so long in a place that you call home, you see the same faces every day, same people. It’s, I mean, it grows on you. And to leave like that, halfway through the year, kind of sucks. But either/or, I think it’s not easy at all.
Is there any meal you have to have before you leave?
I already ordered me some [Locust Point] steamers. Got to get me some crabs. Can’t leave Baltimore without crabs. So we’ll be having some of that tonight.