Former Orioles superstar Manny Machado knew what he had to do when he sat down for his introductory news conference Friday at the San Diego Padres’ spring training facility in Peoria, Ariz. He has had all winter to think about it.
He had to convey how happy he was to be with whatever team he signed with and find a way to make it not seem like it was only about the money.
The Padres made it easy for him. They offered the most years and the biggest guarantee. They gave him a fifth-year opt-out. And they play in one of the most appealing cities in professional sports.
“We knew it was the right fit for me and my wife to be here,’’ Machado said during his opening statement, “so we’re very excited to be here and start this new journey of our baseball career and our lives and take on that San Diego weather and take on this team.”
Let’s not kid ourselves. Machado went for the $300 million — who among us would have done anything else? — but he said all the right things about the Padres, the process and his decision. He even sent a few bouquets to Baltimore.
When asked about any career highlights at Petco Park, he mentioned the home run Adam Jones stole from him with that terrific catch in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Talking about his desire to help the young players in the Padres’ well-stocked farm system — most notably shortstop prospect Fernando Tatís Jr. — he referenced the positive influence that former Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy had on his development.
“I’m just coming here, playing third base, trying to help him out like J.J. Hardy helped me out when I got called up,’’ Machado said. “He was a big influence. I got my Gold Glove because of J.J. having that influence. Hopefully I can do the same for [Tatís].”
Machado helped lead the Orioles to the playoffs twice and has emerged as one of the three or four best two-way players in the sport, so he was asked what he thinks he can accomplish entering what are considered to be the prime years of a baseball player’s career.
“This is just the beginning,’’ he said. “Obviously, I have put up consistent numbers as everyone knows, but at the end of the day it’s about winning games. I know the production is going to be up there. I’m going to bring it every day. But at this point in my career, it’s about the numbers and helping your team win, but helping others out around you makes everyone else better … makes the team better … makes the whole organization better.”
There were also a couple questions that he didn’t want to answer, and he deftly dodged one about how close he came to signing with the Chicago White Sox and straight-armed another about last year’s “Johnny Hustle” controversy during the playoffs.
“Things are going to happen,’’ he said of his multiple playoff dustups while he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. “You kind of just leave that in the past. You address it at the moment and move forward from there.”
Read more from columnist Peter Schmuck on his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.
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