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Manny Machado apologizes for not running out ground ball

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Orioles shortstop Manny Machado hit into a 4-6-3 in the sixth inning of Tuesday’s game against the Mariners. Machado didn’t run hard to first and was booed by Orioles fans at Camden Yards on his way back to the dugout, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported.

Manager Buck Showalter wasn’t happy with Machado, saying, “He’s better than that,” per Kubatko. Showalter added, “It’s a really bad presentation and he knows that.”

Machado has apologized for not running out the ground ball, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Machado said, “At the end of the day, there’s no excuse for not running it out. I take full responsibility for not running. I should have run hard. It looks bad. It looks bad for people who follow me, people who look up to me, and I fully apologize for letting people down, but next time, I’ll run. There’s no excuse for that.”

MLB.com doesn’t have a clip of the double play, but I went back and watched it through MLB.tv. James Paxton threw a 3-1, 98 MPH fastball beat right into the ground, up the middle. Second baseman Dee Gordon was positioned perfectly. The ball was in his glove and Machado was barely out of the batter’s box. That was more a function of how hard Machado hit the ground ball — 103.5 MPH, per Statcast — than his lack of effort. That’s a dead-to-rights double play ball. Even if Machado ran hard, it’s only not a double play if shortstop Jean Segura makes an errant throw, which, yes, can happen.

The Orioles are also completely out of contention with a 23-55 record. They won’t play a meaningful game until late September if they’re acting as potential spoilers for a playoff-hungry team. Machado, meanwhile, is a free agent after the season and could be headed to a contender by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. What if Machado pulls a hamstring busting his butt up the line in an attempt to prevent a double play in a meaningless game for a team 29.5 games out of first place? How many millions of dollars might he lose? The Orioles should wonder how his trade value might be affected in such a case. A player will get injured running the bases more often than his extra effort will turn an out into a hit or two outs into one out.

If I’m Manny Machado, I’m not putting in any extra effort than is necessary while playing for the Orioles this season. And if I’m Orioles GM Dan Duquette, I’m right there with him, telling him not to go the extra mile. This is a pretty simple calculus, leading to the undeniable conclusion that it’s just not worth the extra effort. It rarely is.

As for the kids watching Machado who might copy his lack of effort, former NBA player Charles Barkley said it best: “I’m not a role model. I’m not paid to be a role model. I’m paid to wreak havoc on the basketball court. Parents should be role models. Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.”

Reds are the frontrunner for Nicholas Castellanos

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Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Reds “have emerged as the frontrunner” to sign free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. Morosi says the Reds and Castellanos “have made progress over the past several days.”

The Reds were going to have a lot of outfielders already when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps. And, of course, the Reds could trade from their outfield surplus if, indeed, they end up with an outfield surplus.

Without question, however, Castellanos would be the big dog, at least offensively, in that setup. He had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power. If he were to sign to play half his season in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.