"I don't just throw [the comparisons] away," said Machado, who says that he's hung out with Rodriguez a couple of times and learned a lot from him about work ethic and eating habits. "Everybody is going to compare you to somebody. But I just leave it alone, let it sit there. I'm Manny and he's A-Rod. He's done his stuff. I'm just trying to hopefully get up there and do what he's been able to do."
Machado's size and skill set — good hands, a nice arm and powerful swing — obviously set him apart for a player his age. But the Orioles coaches who have worked with him fixate on what else he brings. They talk about his mature approach to taking ground balls and batting practice. They bring up his confident — yet not cocky — demeanor, and his baseball instincts that makes everything that he does on the field look so routine. And they frequently praise his work ethic and his desire to improve.
"He's obviously a first-round pick and got a lot of money to sign, but he came in last year with the right attitude. He was anxious and wanted to learn," Bordick said. "He's pretty polished for a young kid. That's the thing that stood out to me, just the way he approached ground balls and he moved and reacted. There is definitely some work to do there, but I think just the game experience is going to help him tremendously. He's got a bright future. He's got great baseball instincts, along with the God-given ability that he has. That separates him from a lot of guys right away."
Machado, however, is more than content to be just one of the guys off the field. During spring training, he played video games, watched sports and went out to dinner with his teammates. He's gotten especially close to several of the top Oriole prospects, including Hoes, Xavier Avery and Mychal Givens.
When he joined the big league club, he spent time talking to center fielder Adam Jones and questioning second baseman Brian Roberts on stealing bases and turning the double play.
"He seems like he's very interested in learning. He's not one of those kids who comes in and thinks he knows it all," Roberts said. "I think you look for that sort of thing in somebody who has that much ability. If he can pair that with the desire to learn, that's a good combination. Obviously, he's tremendously talented. I haven't gotten a chance to see him play a lot besides taking some ground balls and hit a little bit, but I don't think talent is an issue, that's for sure."