New York - Prior to leaving The Bronx and taking two out of three from the Yankees this weekend, Baltimore manager Buch Showalter expressed his pleasure with the way Manny Machado has easily handled the transition from shortstop to third base.
Showalter’s only worry was that the organization’s third overall pick in the 2010 draft would carry his offensive struggles out to the field, something that at times has been common with prospects making the sudden jump from the minors to the majors
It’s a concern the Orioles skipper has always dealt with going back to the days when Showalter was running the show in New York and then Arizona and Texas.
As Baltimore is hunting the Yanks for the AL East top spot and leading the wild card race, the rookie’s success at the hot corner has been a credit to his defensive approach and the job done by the staff at Bowie, the club’s Double A affiliate where Machado spent the year before he was called up and debuted against Kansas City on August 9.
He’s made just one error in 57 chances and 22 games, all starts, at third base in the majors after making two starts at third and 104 at short for Bowie this season.
“He worked very hard with the people in Bowie and all the work they did at third base. We felt he had a chance to be very (succesful) because of all the work they did before they opened the gates over there,” Showalter said from the visitors dugout at Yankee Stadium.
“I know when I was here (with) a lot of our young guys, the big thing was can they defend because they’re going to have their ups and downs offensively.”
Machado’s bat didn’t disappoint at first as he hit safely in seven of his first eight games, including homering twice in his second day on the job but entered this weekend’s showdown against the Yankees in a 3-for-23 slide as major league pitchers started to figure him out quickly, the primary difference between pitchers in the minors and the majors, according to Showalter.
“It’s the biggest jump in professional sports, from the minor leagues to the big leagues in professional baseball. The level of pitching is what really is the big jump,” Showalter said while adding that “I kept asking … will he be able to make us better defensively while he goes thru his ups and downs offensively. I probably would have fought it a little bit if I didn’t think I could bring him into a big clubhouse.”
Signs of youth have pointed out to guys like J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters as to why Machado’s transition has been smooth.
“These guys are very welcoming. There’s not a lot of hazing. I saw what they’ve done with (Wei-Tin) Chen. Whether it’s Nate McClouth or Lew Ford, how seemingly these guys fit in. … They just look at a guy and ask can they help us win. If he’s wearing the orange and black, he’s one of us.”
Machado will be wearing those colors for years to come.