On the first of his three scheduled trips into the Bronx to face the New York Yankees, Orioles shortstop Manny Machado was made to maneuver around questions about how prominently the hosts could figure into his future.
Machado, who seven months from now is scheduled to be one of the prized free agents in a market where the Yankees will undoubtedly be a top suitor for his services, declared Thursday that he doesn't plan to move off shortstop for any team next year and said he regards New York like any other baseball city, all while shooting down talks about his uncertain future.
"My future," he said, "is looking pretty good."
"I've just got to go out there, stay healthy, and play baseball. There's nothing to it. I've just got to put up numbers and try to win games for my team and be the best person I can be out there on the field, and do everything possible to contribute to the ballclub and make it to the postseason."
If nothing else, Machado aimed to keep himself off the back pages of New York's newspapers as the Orioles opened a four-game series against the Yankees looking to pull themselves out of a 1-5 hole in the season's first week. He downplayed the fact that the Orioles were even in New York at all, saying it "shouldn't be different" from any of his other 41 games at Yankee Stadium.
"I've been coming here for seven years," Machado said. "I like coming here and playing baseball. Who doesn't like to play baseball? We'll come here, win a couple games, and put ourselves in good situations. We'll see where it goes."
He made sure his time with reporters Thursday didn't go too deep down a path he didn't want it to. Machado's presence in New York has always drawn attention.
The Yankees were heavy suitors in the December trade sweepstakes for Machado's services that executive vice president Dan Duquette held at the winter meetings. Then a two-day spring training storm erupted last month when the Yankees came to Sarasota, Fla., and star outfielder Aaron Judge earned reprimand from Major League Baseball for openly courting Machado to join the Yankees.
"It's a situation that was blown out of proportion," Machado reiterated about the Judge controversy. "That's how the New York media is, but he's a great kid. He meant well. It's just chit-chat that you mess around with, just like everyone else messes around with everyone. It was just blown out of proportion."
Whether all the other attention Machado receives on his trips to New York is blown out of proportion as well will be determined next fall. Machado grew up idolizing former Yankees star Alex Rodriguez and wears his No. 13, and a move to the Bronx could put him on the same level as his hero.
One thing Machado won't do is give up shortstop, a position he only moved to this year but that Rodriguez ceded to Derek Jeter when he came to the Yankees. Machado shot down the notion that he made the switch in 2018 for financial reasons, and said it wouldn't be a temporary one.
"I made the commitment to go to short," Machado said. "I think moving forward, I would like to stay there. This is not just a move, as you guys would say, for money purposes. I'm going to get mine. Everybody's going to get theirs. It wasn't for that. It's just where my heart is and has always been, so that's where I want to be."
Machado, 25, is batting .261 (6-for-23) with a double and a run scored in six games this season.