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Machado center of trade talk in Chicago arrival

Special to MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Manny Machado had just arrived at his corner clubhouse stall Monday afternoon when a collection of 20 reporters and cameras began to close in.

As has become a regular occurrence when the Orioles shortstop arrives in a city where he has been rumored to land if he is traded, his presence created a palpable buzz 3 1/2 hours before the Orioles were set to begin their four-game series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday.

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CHICAGO -- Manny Machado had just arrived at his corner clubhouse stall Monday afternoon when a collection of 20 reporters and cameras began to close in.

As has become a regular occurrence when the Orioles shortstop arrives in a city where he has been rumored to land if he is traded, his presence created a palpable buzz 3 1/2 hours before the Orioles were set to begin their four-game series against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on Monday.

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Machado admitted that the thought of being greeted by Monday's media crowd had crossed his mind before he even arrived. But in the midst of more questioning, Machado continues to maintain that he wants to keep any distractions to a minimum.

"Play baseball -- that's what I'm here to do," Machado told reporters after the size of the scrum forced him into the hall outside the Orioles' clubhouse. "Go play baseball, win some games … at the end of the day, that's all that counts."

Machado entered Monday's game hitting .343 with 14 home runs and 42 RBIs -- a performance level he has maintained despite being constantly hounded about being at the center of trade talks.

Machado avoids getting too detailed in the constant questioning by repeating that his future is out of his hands and that his responsibility on a daily basis continues to be to do his job for the Orioles.

"Manny doesn't mind the spotlight -- he doesn't mind being expected to be that guy," manager Buck Showalter said. "When you have his type of ability, you don't mind because he knows when they get through playing [the national anthem], he's going to have three hours to kind of control some things."

As for Machado's future, Showalter added: "I hope we win the next 20 games and he's here all year."

The latest stop here in Chicago meant addressing talk of the interest the Cubs may have in his services. Machado's cousin, Albert Almora Jr., has become a mainstay in center field on the city's North Side, which celebrated a World Series title in 2016.

Machado said he hasn't spoken with Almora about life with the Cubs and chooses to avoid such talk in order to keep his focus on his daily responsibilities with the Orioles. Asked about his impressions of Chicago as a city, Machado said his daily routine takes him from the hotel to the ballpark, which gives him little chance to see the sights.

"I try to keep it simple," Machado said. "I've got one mindset, which is to play baseball -- go out and leave it all on the field, and after that, I can't control any of [the outside noise]. I try to be the best player I can possibly be once I step on that field."

Jones returns

Center fielder Adam Jones returned to the lineup on Monday after he left Sunday's game with an illness. Jones left after his fourth at-bat, having singled in his first three plate appearances.

Showalter said Sunday that Jones wanted to remain in the game.

"Not many guys would have played seven innings," Showalter said. "He had a certain greenness to him -- when he came off the field after the first inning, I watched him and I knew something wasn't quite right."

Britton to throw simulated game

Orioles reliever Zach Britton is slated to throw a one-inning simulated game on Tuesday and a two-inning simulated game on Saturday, Showalter said. If those go well, Britton -- who has missed the start of the season with a ruptured Achilles -- will report to Triple-A Norfolk to begin a Minor League rehab assignment.

Jeff Arnold is a contributor to MLB.com.

Baltimore Orioles, Manny Machado