MILWAUKEE -- Finally, Manny Machado could just play a baseball game.After rumors circled and a media circus ensued around Machado and his potential suitors at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, the four-time All-Star shortstop was officially introduced as a member of the Dodgers before Friday night's second-half opener against
MILWAUKEE -- Finally, Manny Machado could just play a baseball game.
After rumors circled and a media circus ensued around Machado and his potential suitors at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard, the four-time All-Star shortstop was officially introduced as a member of the Dodgers before Friday night's second-half opener against the Brewers at Miller Park. Acquired from the Orioles on Wednesday and widely recognized as the top player on the trade market this season, Machado can finally focus on the on-field side of things.
Machado, who started at shortstop and batted second on Friday, wasted no time getting acclimated to his new club as he singled off Brewers starter Wade Miley in his first at-bat in the top of the first inning. Machado walked in his next two appearances and logged his second single in the seventh off reliever Taylor Williams as the Dodgers went on to win, 6-4.
"It was awesome," Machado said. "It was amazing to go out there and put on that uniform. Just happy to be here with these guys: a great group, great team, great leadership."
Wearing a new jersey didn't phase the 26-year-old, who claimed before the game he wasn't tense about his debut.
"I've been doing this since I was a kid," Machado said. "I just go out there and I'm always going to play with a smile on my face. Why would I be nervous? It's baseball. Jitters were going through, and it was totally different, but I was excited."
While Machado wore No. 13 over his six years with the O's, Player Page for Max Muncy already dons the number with the Dodgers. Machado chose No. 8 -- a homage to his favorite basketball player (and the namesake of his dog, Kobe), Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.
Muncy was never even asked about the potential of having to change his number.
"I went to the lake house, turned my phone off and just tried to enjoy my time off," Muncy said. "I was excited about [getting him], and I started checking my phone seeing if there were any messages about changing numbers, and nobody ever asked me. I assumed I was keeping my number.
"Or I assumed I was going to show up today and have a different number," he joked.
Despite the new number, the Dodgers are hoping they get the same Machado production (.315 average, 24 homers, 65 RBIs with the Orioles this season) over the next two-plus months.
"We think Manny was the most impactful player on the market at the time, and any contender could see he could make a positive impact for him," general manager Farhan Zaidi said. "We just tried to stay involved. We knew it was in the making for months. For a player of Manny's caliber, you're going to have to give up a lot, and we did. He was our No. 1 priority this month."
Machado slots right in at short with Corey Seager sidelined for the rest of the season after having Tommy John surgery in early May, but manager Dave Roberts said the possibility exists down the line for Machado to play third base -- his primary position until this season.
"He hasn't taken any grounders yet this year at third base," Roberts said, "so you have to appreciate that and understand that he hasn't done it all year, and we want to put him in the best position of success."
On if he has a position preference, Machado said: "I'm here to win. At the end of the day, I want to win a ring."
Speculation increased about the potential of a trade during Tuesday's All-Star Game when Machado took a selfie at second base with now-Dodgers teammate Matt Kemp. The screenshot of the two taking the photo quickly went viral on Twitter, leading viewers to think the pair knew something that everyone else didn't -- but Machado quelled those theorists with his explanation.
"I just wanted to take a picture with everyone at second base, and Matt just happened to be the first one there," Machado said. "Taking a picture with him, those memories won't be forgotten."
On if there really was more to the selfie, Kemp chuckled: "Maybe, maybe not. Who knows?"
There was a more somber side to the acquisition, which came with Machado's inevitable departure from the last-place Orioles. Machado said he had the chance to say goodbye to a few close friends, but the quick turnaround between Tuesday's game, Wednesday's trade and having to be in Milwaukee on Friday made it difficult to do much else.
In a Friday afternoon Instagram post, Machado thanked the Orioles' organization, fans, manager Buck Showalter and teammates, including Jonathan Schoop.
"I first joined the organization at the age of 17 and these past eight years have far exceeded anything I ever could have imagined," Machado wrote. "Thank you Birdland! You are forever in my heart!"
To make room for Machado on the 25-man roster, the Dodgers optioned outfielder Alvin Toles to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
"It's exciting," Roberts said. "It makes our club considerably better. [Machado] looks pretty good in Dodger blue."
Stephen Cohn is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen__Cohn.