Orioles to call up top prospect Manny Machado from Double-A

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Now here’s a surprise: Baltimore is calling up 20-year-old shortstop Manny Machado from Double-A Bowie on Thursday, MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli reports.

Machado, the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, has been on fire of late, going 15-for-32 with three homers in his last nine games. He hit for the cycle on Saturday. Still, he hasn’t been all that great on the season as a whole, hitting .266/.350/.431 with 10 homers and 58 RBI in 399 at-bats. Of course, he was doing that as one of the youngest players in the upper minors — he just turned 20 years old on Monday.

The guess is that Machado will join the mix at third base for the Orioles, even though he’s played just two games there as a pro. The Orioles have mostly used Wilson Betemit at third of late and he’s been producing, but he can play first base, left field and DH. Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis have both been slumping and could stand to lose some playing time. Shortstop J.J. Hardy has been a bit better of late and is likely to remain an everyday player.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.