BALTIMORE—Manny Machado spent his Monday off-day in Baltimore resting in his hotel room. When he did venture out, he ran into some fans wearing his old Orioles’ jersey.
“Saw a lot of ‘13’s walking around,” he said. “It brought back a lot of memories. I was more excited yesterday than I am today. I’m more nervous today.
“I’m never nervous. I guess it’s little a weird nervous in a way. It’s just different, a different nervous …I t’s a good nervous.”
Machado is playing against the Orioles for the first time since they traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers last July 18. He signed a 10-year, $300-million contract with the San Diego Padres on February 21.
“It’s a little weird,” Machado said. “This is a place I called home for a long time. Coming in here, coming to a hotel and not my home, coming to the opposite side of the clubhouse is a little different … excited to be back, excited to see the fans out there and take third base again like I did for a long time.”
From 2012-18, Machado played for Oriole teams that qualified for three postseason berths. He won two Gold Gloves and made five All-Star teams.
In 2018, Machado was pulled out of the final home game before the All-Star break after a rain delay because the Orioles didn’t want to risk injury when they were nearing a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, one that consummated the day after the All-Star Game.
“I pretty much thought that was probably the last time I was going to be on that field,” Machado said. “At the end of the day, you never know. I didn’t know if I was going to come back or not.”
Machado rattled off a number of former teammates he missed: Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo.
“We have endless relationships with guys I played with here,” Machado said. “There are so many relationships I built here that go above baseball.
“…Markakis wasn’t the loudest talker on the ballclub, but he led by example every day. That’s something you take from. Adam went out there and hustled as much as he possibly [could]. He ran through walls … He was a leader on and off the field. As a young kid, you observe, you just watch.”
Machado was brought to the majors from Bowie in August 2012, and converted from shortstop to third base. He was a key part of the team that made the postseason after 14 consecutive losing seasons.
“It was great for the city,” Machado said. “The city loved it … our fans came out there and gave us everything. That’s why we were who we where at time. Buck [Showalter] and the group that we had. We cared for each other and we grew as a group together.
“We enjoyed every moment of it. Those are things that will never be forgotten.”
At 26, Machado is trying to teach the Padres what the Oriole veterans taught him.
“I’m trying to take … my young group to the playoffs like we did here in Baltimore,” Machado said. “I feel like we have that same group that [we had] when we came up.”