The Interview: Machado talks nicknames, defence, cooking

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (Patrick Semansky/AP)

In every edition of Sportsnet Magazine, Kristina Rutherford talks to the biggest stars in sports. This interview originally appeared in Sportsnet Magazine.

It looks like a great life. You play baseball in the sun, you chew bubble gum…
 You’re absolutely right. It’s a great lifestyle. You travel on a plane every other day or so, you have a great group of guys who are like your brothers—like that brother I never had. We chew sunflower seeds and chew gum and have Gatorade and lots of sweets. It’s pretty awesome, I’m not gonna lie. I still just can’t believe that I’m up here playing. When I come to a baseball stadium, I try to take it in as much as possible.

You’re not just playing, you’re rakin’. How do you like being the leadoff hitter?
I like that, rakin’. I’ve learned about hitting, going up there, having an approach—it makes you learn the game a little more. It makes you [be] patient and look for your pitch and not try to do too much or put too much pressure on yourself.

“Baby-Faced Assassin” and “Hakuna Machado.” You have great nicknames.
They’re interesting. Jonesy [Adam Jones] gave me Baby-Faced Assassin my first year here in the big leagues. The other one, Hakuna Machado, stuck—I don’t know where the hell that came from. And there’s M&M—that’s a good one.

You have a Platinum and a Gold Glove. But what about your actual glove. Any special treatment?
I have a nice little glove case for it. I keep it nice and cool when I travel so it doesn’t get messed up. The case is to form your glove—you put a little form inside the pocket and it keeps it nice. Then I have a little bag that I wrap it up in. That’s your baby, right there. You have to treat it as good as possible. You can’t mistreat it.

How do you break in a new one?
Catching lots of balls, trying to create a pocket. And the hydroculator. It’s a little machine we use for heat packs, whenever you’re sore. Put it in there and it gets warm and it gets soft after that.

As a kid, were you an exceptional player in the field?
Yeah, I could say that.

You made your MLB debut at third, a position you’d played about twice before. How did you transition so quickly from shortstop?
When they started the talks about moving me to third, [coach Bobby Dickerson] came down and worked with me in the minor leagues. We were home for a long stretch, I think two or three weeks, and it was every day, learning the angles of it. That’s the biggest key to playing third base is knowing your angles. And you just have to catch the ball, you don’t have to really do too much.

It sounds so easy!
That’s it. Plain and simple.

What if the Orioles told you to go play left field?
Hell yeah, I would. I can play any position except catcher. I don’t think my knees would hold up. As a pitcher, I’d probably get rocked.

As a rookie, you made that pump-fake play to first to get the out at third. Where’d you get that poise?
It’s baseball instincts. I knew I didn’t have a play at first. Honestly, it just came out of my ass. [Laughs.] You have a great shortstop like J.J. Hardy who’s on point for everything—it just made it that much better that he was on third base. So I was like, “Lemme just pump-fake and see what happens.” J.J. was there, and I threw it and it turned out to be one of the best plays ever.

How’s your cooking?
 I let my wife cook. I can’t cook. Not at all. Not even eggs—I burn ’em. I burnt the toast, too.

When’s the last time you made a meal, Manny?
Oooh. It’s been a long time. OK, I just started cooking. I cook a little, I’m not gonna lie. I started cooking a little bit this past spring training, we had a BBQ grill up there. I started grilling all my stuff. We gotta start little by little, you know? Start on the grill and then make my way to the kitchen. I go to this diner for breakfast that’s amazing, Bert’s Diner. I get the French toast.

What’s it like to watch Jose Bautista vs. Darren O’Day?
It’s interesting, that little rivalry they have. It goes back and forth; he strikes him out, he hits a homer, he strikes him out, he hits a homer. It’s fun to watch every time they face each other.

What’s it like being compared to Alex Rodriguez?

It’s awesome. He’s been my mentor and favourite player. It’s been good to see him healthy and doin’ what he’s doin’. We have great conversations all the time, about everything, whatever we want. From on the field to off the field, being a good person, being a good man, being true to yourself always. I’ve been lucky to have a person like that by my side to help me.

What’s the best advice he’s given you?
Stay humble. Play the game every day and treat it with respect and everything else will come on its own.

Stay humble at 23 with a Platinum Glove. Is that hard?
It is. You try to stay humble as much as possible because this game can blow you up and at the same time it can bring you down quick.

You seem quite laid-back. But on the field, sometimes you get fired up. Sometimes you get ejected…
When you’re in there, emotions are running, they’re flying. Sometimes it gets outta hand. Through 162 games, you’re gonna be tired, you’re gonna be hot…

Wait. When you’re hot, you get angry?
 Yeah. [Laughs.] People get angry. You try to control it as much as possible. That’s something you learn throughout the years. You have to control your emotions and just go about your business.

Last year, against Oakland, you threw a bat toward third and caused a bench-clearing brawl.
That’s immaturity. Something that you shouldn’t have done, put your teammates in harm’s way by stupidity that was made by my poor decision.

You’re owning up?
Yeah, you gotta own up. I shouldn’t have done that. It just happened.

Will it happen again?
Psssht. Probably.

This story originally appeared in Sportsnet magazine. Subscribe here.

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