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Roberts impressed by early returns on Machado

New Dodgers shortstop thrived with bat, glove against Brewers
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Until Friday night in Milwaukee, Dave Roberts and Manny Machado's paths had crossed in the Major Leagues only seven times. Roberts joined the Padres coaching staff in 2011 before becoming the Dodgers manager in '16, while Machado entered the big leagues with the Orioles in '12. Their clubs only met in '13 and '16 during Interleague play.

So when the Dodgers acquired the four-time All-Star on Wednesday, Roberts had seldomly seen his new shortstop in person. Needless to say, after starting 3-for-8 with two walks and making a dazzling play in the field on Saturday, Roberts is impressed.

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MILWAUKEE -- Until Friday night in Milwaukee, Dave Roberts and Manny Machado's paths had crossed in the Major Leagues only seven times. Roberts joined the Padres coaching staff in 2011 before becoming the Dodgers manager in '16, while Machado entered the big leagues with the Orioles in '12. Their clubs only met in '13 and '16 during Interleague play.

So when the Dodgers acquired the four-time All-Star on Wednesday, Roberts had seldomly seen his new shortstop in person. Needless to say, after starting 3-for-8 with two walks and making a dazzling play in the field on Saturday, Roberts is impressed.

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Machado continued his strong start during the Dodgers' 11-2 win on Sunday at Miller Park, registering hits in each of his first two at-bats. After singling in the first, he registered his first extra-base hit and RBI with the Dodgers on a double against Brewers starter Brent Suter. Machado then scored on Justin Turner's double.

Video: Machado's RBI double

Machado reached base four times -- two singles and two walks -- in his Dodgers debut against the Brewers on Friday, but he found less success at the plate Saturday, going 1-for-5 while putting all five balls in play.

That's the consistency the Dodgers are expecting from Machado, who has a career-best walk rate (12.1 percent) and walk-to-strikeout ratio (0.92).

"He's doing everything we've expected, using the whole field, getting on base, staying in the strike zone," Roberts said after Sunday's series finale. "So the production as far as the slug and driving in runs, that's going to come, we're not worried about that."

Video: LAD@MIL: Machado singles in his first AB as a Dodger

Machado's bat has propelled him to a 3.9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in 2018, good for 10th best in the Major Leagues. However, in his first full season at shortstop, Machado's glove has let him down, earning him a -3.3 defensive WAR -- the worst of the top-10 players in terms of WAR.

With runners on the corners and one out in the second inning of the Dodgers' 4-2 loss to the Brewers on Saturday night, Keon Broxton hit a ground ball to Machado's right in the hole between him and third baseman Max Muncy. Machado fielded the ball while moving to his right and threw over across his body to first baseman Cody Bellinger, who scooped it to retire the speedy Broxton. Ryan Braun scored on the play from third base.

On the play, Machado's exchange time was 0.77 seconds and the throw traveled 139 feet, according to Statcast™.

Roberts still believes Machado has room for growth at shortstop and potentially credits some of the struggles to playing for the last-place Orioles, who entered Sunday's action 40 1/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox.

"When you're playing on a first-place team, the focus -- not to say he wasn't focused, but I understand the energy, whatever you want to classify it as, is heightened," Roberts said. "That's just facts. You look at his ability, and there was a challenge that he knows what the metrics say, and the challenge is to prove them wrong. I like the eye test, and I haven't seen him play much at all at shortstop this year, but from what I've seen, the way he's worked and connected with [infield coach] Chris Woodward, there's a lot of good things for us to look out at."

Third base was Machado's primary position until this season, and Roberts has not ruled out eventually giving him playing time at the hot corner.

Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Machado