Machado set to play in GCL on Monday

Rookie to join team today for workout in Sarasota, Fla.

August 21, 2010|By Glenn Graham | Baltimore Sun reporter

With his contract signed and the realization that he's indeed a professional baseball player, Orioles 2010 first-round draft pick Manny Machado is now looking forward to doing what he loves to do -- play baseball.

Machado, who agreed to a $5.25 millon deal moments before Monday's midnight deadline after being drafted out of Brito High in Miami, will report to the club's minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla. -- joining the Gulf Coast League Orioles. He'll work out with the team today and likely play in Monday's game.

With his future still in question up to the final minutes of Monday's deadline, Machado is looking forward to just playing ball.

"My plan is to go out there and have fun -- what I've been doing throughout my career of baseball. I'm not going to think about anything else. Just go out there, play hard and give 110 percent," Machado said during his first news conference via conference call Saturday afternoon.

Machado, 17, selected third overall, described the final night of negotiations as "crazy," and he said he wasn't certain whether he would be playing professionally or headed to college.

"But at the end, it was just a great night," he said. "I was pretty excited the deal got done."

Machado didn't play baseball during the summer aside from fielding some ground balls and working in the batting cage. He anticipates being a little rusty as he faces live pitching, but he is looking forward to suiting up and playing professional ball.

When the Gulf Coast Orioles' season ends Saturday, Machado likely will be transferred to Single-A Delmarva or short-season Single-A Aberdeen.

While in Sarasota, Machado, as well as 2010 fifth-round pick Connor Narron and last year's second-round pick, Mychal Givens -- all shortstops -- will work with former Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick, the organization's roving minor league instructor.

Friday ejection is in the past

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was quick to look past his ninth-inning ejection in Friday's 2-0 loss to the Texas Rangers.

All game long, the Orioles were frustrated with plate umpire Jeff Nelson's strike zone -- mild-mannered outfielder Nick Markakis was thrown out for the first time in 747 big league games in the sixth inning -- and emotions continued to run over in the top of the ninth inning.

After catcher Matt Wieters had words with Nelson behind the plate following a called ball on a close pitch by Matt Abers, Showalter came out to protect his catcher as well as voice his displeasure.

Clean slate the day after?

"Yep. Sure. Turn the page," Showalter said. "I usually only take the card out on the first day, but I'll take it out today. It's part of it. It's a tough game to umpire. Fast game, and you understand. The game moves so fast, sometimes it's an educated guess."

As for Markakis' rare display of frustration in the sixth inning, Showalter wasn't too surprised.

"I can tell you this, there's a strong fire burning there underneath," he said. "It just may not always show verbally between the lines. In the dugout and in the clubhouse maybe when everybody's not around, he cares -- a lot."

Millwood to make 400th start

Kevin Millwood will become the seventh active pitcher to make 400 starts when he faces the Rangers today.

"I haven't really thought anything about it," said Millwood, 35. "It is definitely a cool thing, being able to stay around that long to get that many starts. To have somebody allow you to get that many starts is definitely a big honor."

Philadelphia's Jamie Moyer leads all active pitchers with 628 starts. The other five pitchers -- Andy Pettitte, Livan Hernandez, Tim Wakefield, Javier Vazquez and Jeff Suppan -- have not reached 500 starts.

Johnson on mound in Bowie

Reliever Jim Johnson, currently on the 60-day disabled list with elbow inflammation, threw 12 pitches at Double-A Bowie on Friday and was expected to pitch again Saturday.

With the Orioles playing an afternoon game, Showalter was hoping to get a chance to watch Johnson pitch if time permitted.

"He's scheduled to pitch back-to-back days again on the 24th and 25th -- that's with two days off. I think after that, if that goes well, it becomes a baseball decision," Showalter said. "That's the plan right now. It could change -- it depends on how things go tonight, so we'll see."

Britton continues to impress

Minor league pitcher Zach Britton enjoyed another solid start with Triple-A Norfolk on Friday -- a 3-1 loss to Durham -- adding to speculation that he may be a September call-up when the major league rosters expand.

Splitting time with Double-A Bowie and Norfolk, the promising left-hander is 9-6 with a 2.70 ERA -- striking out 107 batters in 136 innings pitched.

On Friday, Britton, who was a third-round draft pick by the Orioles in 2006, pitched 61/3 innings and allowed two earned runs on three hits.

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