Orioles infielder Manny Machado said deciding to drop his appeal and start serving his four-game suspension Sunday is the right decision for his team.
And, given the current schedule, it probably is.
But he’s still not happy about the outcome – specifically that he’ll miss four games for charging Kansas City right-hander Yordano Ventura on June 7. Ventura, who plunked Machado with a 99-mph fastball to ignite the brawl, received a nine-game suspension that was knocked down to eight games Saturday as part of a negotiation with MLB officials.
Both teams will be limited to 24 players during the suspensions, but Ventura is only part of the everyday roster once every five days. So Ventura will miss just one game played. And that has Machado miffed.
“He’s going to be missing one start and I’m going to be missing four games. I think I’m more valuable as a player to my teammates than he is as a starter, and he’s just gonna miss one for the incident he did?” Machado said after Saturday’s 4-2 victory. “I mean, this whole problem started with him, so why do I get four and he gets one? That’s all up to MLB to figure out and why they did that situation.”
Machado, clearly, is still stinging from the decision.
“All I can say is I wish whoever is making those opinions could step in the batter’s box and try to get hit by a 99-mph fastball – a couple times thrown at them,” he said.
Machado’s appeal hearing was supposed to be Tuesday, but that means he wouldn’t have known the outcome until Wednesday or Thursday. The Orioles didn’t want him missing a full series against division rival Tampa Bay, so now he’ll miss one game versus the Blue Jays on Sunday, the one-game road trip to Texas on Monday and the two-game series at Camden Yards versus San Diego. He’ll play again Friday.
“I have confidence in my teammates they are going to go out there and play every day and pick up for the mistake that I did,” Machado said. “I’ll be off the team for a little bit and I’ve got confidence in them that they’re going to go out there and keep playing good baseball.”
Machado and Orioles manager Buck Showalter said they both were told that Machado’s suspension wouldn’t be reduced even if the case had gone to a hearing. And any negotiations – like Ventura’s – wouldn’t yield anything.
“I don’t think they were trying to (negotiate with me). I think MLB felt it was fair what they gave me and I don’t think they were going to get it down,” he said. “It’s their opinion against mine and I think we had a good case.”
The suspension caused the Orioles to juggle their roster Saturday with the return of pitcher Yovani Gallardo and shortstop J.J. Hardy from the disabled list. The Orioles demoted pitchers Mike Wright and T.J. McFarland, but likely would have removed an infielder from the 25-man – Paul Janish or Ryan Flaherty – had Machado been able to play this week.
“There’s a lot of factors going on here. Manny’s going to start serving his suspension (Sunday) and that had a lot to do with it,” an irked Showalter said. “It’s going to start somewhere and it’s going to be painful anyway you do it. It’s almost like we lost a guy to the DL again, so somebody’s going to have to step up. A good player doing good things and we won’t have him for four days because somebody hit him with a pitch. There’s other reasons, too. Intentionally. I need to stop.”
The decision means that Machado’s consecutive games played streak – the longest current one in the majors – will end at 229 games. He’s not happy about that, but said he never had his eye on the all-time record set by Hall-of-Fame Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. at 2,632. Machado fell 2,403 games – or 14-plus seasons short.
“Nobody is ever going to break Cal Ripken’s record, so that’s (not) in the back of mind. That’s nowhere in my mind. He’s the Iron Man, he’ll always be the Iron Man,” Machado said. “But it was cool that Buck gave me the opportunity to go out there every day and perform at an elite level … It was something special that I did last year playing 162.”
And now Machado, who will continue to be paid through the suspension, won’t be able to play for five days and four games. He can’t play in any minor-league affiliated contests, either, though he might work out some with pitchers in Baltimore or Sarasota.
“It just sucks that I’m going to be down for four (games) and be away from the team and the team is going to be down one man,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest issue we’re going to have here, being down a man and not having that extra guy in the bullpen or in the batting order. I’ve got confidence in my teammates that they will come up and come up big.”