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Machado hits first spring Padres homer

@AJCassavell
March 20, 2019

PEORIA, Ariz. -- For the second time this spring, Manny Machado crushed a baseball into the left-field bullpen at Peoria Stadium. For the first time, it counted. Machado -- whose first dinger as a Padre was wiped out of the Cactus League record books by an eventual rainout -- went

PEORIA, Ariz. -- For the second time this spring, Manny Machado crushed a baseball into the left-field bullpen at Peoria Stadium.

For the first time, it counted.

Machado -- whose first dinger as a Padre was wiped out of the Cactus League record books by an eventual rainout -- went deep in the first inning of Wednesday's 10-7 loss to Milwaukee. He sat on a 3-2 fastball from Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff and crushed it to left field for a two-run shot.

It's easy to envision that precise Machado swing playing well at Petco Park with the Western Metal Building looming in left field. Opening Day is eight days away, and Machado's first chance to hit a home run that really, truly counts will presumably come against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants in San Diego.

Machado has slumped a bit this spring. He’s hitting .176 in 34 plate appearances (which don’t include his March 12 homer against Oakland). But he's also fallen victim to some rough batted-ball luck and has sent at least five deep flies to the warning track. He did so again in the bottom of the third inning Wednesday.

Even on his home run, Machado didn’t quite get all of it. But his raw power was enough to carry the ball out. The home run came after Eric Hosmer worked a tough walk. Machado has raved about hitting in a lineup that also features Hosmer, Wil Myers and Franmil Reyes, among others.

On paper, it’s the most potent San Diego lineup in at least a decade, and Machado clearly thinks the Padres can surprise a few people this season.

"Of course we can contend," Machado said prior to the game. "We've got the talent and we've got the heart. We just need to go out there and play baseball, not worry about putting pressure on ourselves to go out there, perform, try to make the postseason. Nah, it's just about playing baseball, winning games. ... If we leave it all out on the field every day, things will roll the right way for us."

Wednesday's game also marked the first time Machado had faced the Brewers since last year's National League Championship Series, when he drew national backlash for his "Johnny Hustle" comments and for clipping Jesus Aguilar's leg while running to first base.

The Brewers' fans at Peoria Stadium booed lustily when Machado strode to the plate Wednesday. Those boos were just as quickly drowned out when Machado made contact and began to circle the bases, his first official homer as a Padre in tow.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.