PORT ST. LUCIE, FLA. — Orioles shortstop Manny Machado had been quiet for two days on the hoopla surrounding New York Yankees star Aaron Judge admitting and then being reprimanded for telling the free-agent-to-be that he'd look good in pinstripes. But Machado said Friday that he didn't make much of the entire situation.
"I think it was just blown out of proportion," Machado said. "I'm always going to back him up. He's a great kid and has a bright future ahead of him."
Judge told reporters covering the Yankees on Wednesday when they visited the Orioles in Sarasota that he'd made the comments to Machado on the field during batting practice, and was subsequently reprimanded by Yankees management on behalf of Major League Baseball for tampering.
On Thursday, Orioles manager Buck Showalter shrugged off the ordeal, joking that he was glad Machado wasn't caught saying the same thing to Judge.
Machado said Judge "always means well.”
"Everyone always jokes around about a lot of things, and things that we say on the field usually stay on the field," Machado said. "I've told a lot of people they'd look good in black and orange as well, trying to get guys over here. It's just part of the game. You want to put the best team out there on your field and if I'm a part of this team, I want to bring the best guys over here as much as I can. I want to get a ring as well."
Machado's pending free agency looms over everything he does, but even with his move back to shortstop, it seems neither will be able to dampen the enthusiasm building around his 2018 season.
In the Orioles' 4-4 tie with the New York Mets on Friday at First Data Field, Machado went 1-for-3 with a double that scored center fielder Colby Rasmus after right fielder Jay Bruce committed a fielding error on the play. Machado is now batting .425 (17-for-40) with five doubles and three home runs, all while looking like he never moved off shortstop.
He said that when things went badly last year, he'd try to fix something and end up more out of whack. This year, he's staying with the plan every day — and seeing results.
"I just try to be consistent, try to be consistent with everything every day," Machado said. "Don't try to switch up and turn off for the day or try to look for something wrong. Try to stay with everything I've been working with this offseason. Continue doing it now and going forward."