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Manny Machado's abrupt mid-game departure gives Orioles tuneup for the inevitable

As the Orioles’ clubhouse cleared out for the All-Star break Sunday, Manny Machado was sent to his fourth All-Star Game with well-wishes from his teammates — a few fistbumps, several hugs and a lot of good lucks as he goes on to perform on one of baseball’s biggest stages.

He will wear an Orioles uniform in Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Nationals Park — manager Buck Showalter said that much after the team’s 6-5 win over the Texas Rangers — but anything after that is no given as the Orioles continue to move toward trading their best player before the nonwaiver trade deadline July 31.

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Machado could have played in his final game at Camden Yards on Sunday, and if he did, he gave one lasting final memory with a loud solo homer in the first inning, his 24th of the season. Machado said after the game that he wasn’t thinking of that.

The Orioles enter the All-Star break preparing to navigate one of the club’s most pivotal stretches in determining its future in the weeks leading up to the nonwaiver trade deadline, moves that will serve as the building blocks of the team’s rebuild.

“No, not at all,” Machado said. “I’m the type of player, once I get in there, I’m locked in. I’m trying to win. I’m trying to go out there and leave it all on the field. Whether we lose, whether we win, whether I don’t, you just go out there and leave it on the field.”

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When Machado didn’t take the field for the top of the fifth inning shortly after a 26-minute rain delay, it sent questions throughout the stadium whether Machado had been dealt mid-game, but he was removed as a precaution because of the wet conditions.

“That's part of it,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We know what's going on, the potential. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that was all it. My thought on that is, what are you telling the other eight people? Obviously, there's a different situation going on with Manny. You all know that. That had a lot to do with it. … A month ago, he wouldn't have come out of the game. We know that. You know it. You're smart. I think you know what's going on.”

Said Machado: “After a rain delay, I have no idea. I don’t know why [Showalter] did it or not, but he just told me, ‘I’m going to take you out. You had a good first half and go represent us well in the All-Star Game.’ ”

Center fielder Adam Jones, another pending free agent who could get moved at the deadline, didn’t know what to think.

“I don’t know,” Jones said. “I don’t know what’s going on, so … We don’t know what’s going on. We’re not privy to the information. Everything is a secret, so once we know, then we can act. If we don’t know nothing, then we can’t act.”

Showalter couldn’t say whether he will have to take any further precautions with Machado in any future games before he’s dealt. The Orioles open the second half under the retractable roof of Rogers Centre in Toronto before playing their next seven games at home. They play deadline day at Yankee Stadium.

“There are variables that play into each day and I take the variable and how it correlates to each day and see where we are,” Showalter said. “[Executive vice president] Dan [Duquette] and his group are working very hard on a lot of things to make us better today and down the road and the timing of that is always a challenge. I just make sure he doesn’t have to worry about anything down here and make the adjustments that need to be made.”

Showalter was still cryptic about what could happen after the break.

“Hopefully a lot of things will be a lot clearer by the time we hit Friday, but don’t count on it,” Showalter said.

If Sunday was his final game in an Orioles uniform — if, for some reason, he’s walked out of the home clubhouse at Camden Yards for the final time — Machado said he will cherish the time here, even throughout this season full of losses and uncertainty.

“Just looking back at everything that’s happened this year, trade rumors, everything, just overall playing with this team has always been incredible,” Machado said. “Whether we’ve had our ups and downs this year, it is what it is. Me putting up the numbers I did at shortstop where people didn’t think I should have made the move in my walk year, but I did. I’m going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop. It’s just always a blessing. I thank God. I thank my family for always supporting me, my teammates, the fans, the organization, I mean it’s just been very incredible.”

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