Doc Shorebird Interviews Manny Machado
Doc Shorebird was nice enough to share an interview he did with Manny Machado for the Orioles Hangout. Check out the Orioles Hangout at http://www.orioleshangout.com/. He also shared a a picture of Manny with his nephew from Sarasota. Thanks a lot Doc and Orioles Hangout.
Doc Shorebird: Manny, I understand that baseball begins early in the Machado family. How old were you when you started playing baseball?
Manny Machado: I started swinging a bat when I was about two years old. At about one-and-a-half I had started using a bat as sort of a pacifier substitute.
Doc Shorebird: Now there’s a headline for our interview – “a bat was Manny’s pacifier.”
Manny Machado: Yeah.
DS: Why did a bat seem so important to you then?
MM: My whole family was interested in baseball. I was growing up with my family very involved with baseball. I’ve been told that even when I was in the womb, my mother (Rosa Nunez) was always at the ballfield.
My uncle really got me started. My Uncle Geovany (Brito) was like my father – well he basically is my father in that he spent so much time with me. He’s been with me since I was born. He was always there for me ever since I was a little kid. He lived across the street and when he came home from work, I would go over to his house. While I waited for him to come home, I would practice my swings and things. He would take me to the ballfield that was about a five minute walk every day and hit me countless ground balls. He would get tired of hitting them, but I wouldn’t get tired of fielding them. I would just keep on making him throw grounders after he got tired of hitting them. Every night my mother would ask me about my practice. Sometimes she would ask things like “Did you practice your bunting?” or something like that.
DS: Well, your uncle taught you correctly. Your fluidity and rapid ball transfer from your glove to your hand is so smooth, as well as quick.
MM: Yes, the repetitions surely helped. It’s just been natural for me since I was a little kid. I don’t practice it that much anymore. It just comes naturally to me.
DS: The old “chicken or egg” question. Did it become natural because you practice it so much or did you practice so much because it was natural and you enjoyed it? Is this what you mean when you say it just comes natural to you?
MM: Yes. I have been playing baseball games since I was six years old. My uncle put me at SS when I was six because I could field and make the throw to first base better than the older kids on the little league team. Once I got into higher levels of play, I just started playing with older kids. I played a lot of summer ball. During my junior year in high school, I was playing with draft picks from the year before. I just learned to slow down the game and the ball on the field.
DS: Were you big for your age?
MM: Not really. I was a decent size. I started growing once I hit eighth grade. At about 14 or 15 years old, I hit my growth spurt, but I was playing with older kids, so I wasn’t bigger than them. I set my goals high and I wanted to play with the best players I could.
DS: When did you realize that you were going to be good enough to play professionally some day?
MM: I don’t mean this to sound like I’m bragging; but to be honest, I’ve always known I had good tools. As far as being able to play professionally, it was probably after my junior year.
DS: Did you have anyone in mind to emulate as you were learning the game?
MM: I’ve always admired A-Rod. Ever since I was a little kid, I always looked up to him. I would watch him and then go out to the field and practice his swing and how he would catch ground balls. I always admired him, but I’m Manny Machado, not A-Rod.
DS: Have you ever met him?
DS: Have you ever worked out with him?
MM: Yes, I worked out with him down in South Florida.
DS: Did he teach you anything about the off-field aspects as well, such as conditioning and how to take care of yourself?
MM: Yes, he did. I learned a lot from him. He helped prepare me for everyday professional play and what to expect in the minor leagues.
DS: You look a little stronger since you were drafted. You look less like a typical high school player and more like a college draftee. You were listed at 6’2″ and 180 pounds at signing. You must have worked hard during the off-season because you look more solid than that.
MM: I put on 15 pounds. I know that I will have to work hard to stay strong during the season. I know that at Delmarva I will be playing nearly every day and have long bus rides and different travel meals. It’s the league you travel the most. I know that I have to keep a good eating program
DS: OK, how do you do that if you are on the road and the bus comes in at 3:00 in the morning and you’re half asleep, still tired, and hungry too? You want to get in the room and get some decent sleep. How do you take care of yourself under those conditions?
MM: I’m old enough already — I mean I’m a man and I’ll go out and grab myself a cup of microwaveable brown rice , go buy eggs, you know, do my grocery shopping, and make sure I get a good breakfast.
DS: Speaking of Delmarva, I understand that they will have a Manny Machado bobble head give-a-way promotion.
MM: I have heard that the fans there are great. I am looking forward to playing there. I have heard a lot of good things about Delmarva. I’ve heard it a great place. I’ve heard they give good fan support. I’ve heard that the fans treat you real good, and I’m looking forward to that.
DS: You got a little taste of professional ball last year with two games at the Gulf Coast League Orioles and seven games with Aberdeen. Then there was a mini-camp in the fall. Is there anything that the Orioles want you to work on?
MM: It was a good thing I got in there early and got my feet wet. It really prepared me for what’s coming this year. I have an idea of what to expect. We did a lot of stuff — double plays and fixing up how I throw to second on the double play, squaring my feet and shoulders and little things like that that may make a big difference — you know, little things that will perfect my game.
DS: Then during the off-season, what did you do to prepare for this season?
MM: I got stronger lifting weights. It was my first time lifting. It worked pretty well.
DS: Yes, 15 pounds of muscle is about the limit for the training you did. Any more weight gain would have included fat gain as well.
MM: I’m just glad to be out here having fun. I’m ready for the season now. I’m really ready. I’m pumped. I’m going to have a good year. Hopefully, with God up there helping me, I can achieve my goal.
DS: Do you feel any pressure that you have to?
MM: Nah. No pressure at all. I just go out there and play the game that I love. Just go out there and try and win for this organization around me and to help the other guys.