Manny seeing clearer after laser eye surgery

February 26th, 2021

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Padres general manager A.J. Preller sent shockwaves through the baseball world this winter with one blockbuster move after another.

One guy who wasn't surprised in the slightest? .

The Padres' 2019 signing of Machado, of course, was arguably Preller's most stunning coup to date. So if there's anyone who knows what San Diego's freewheeling GM is capable of, it's Machado himself.

"He's known for this," Machado said. "He's done it in the past, and he showed it last year. Midway through, he traded 10-15 players last year. He wants to win, and he knows the team and what we've done performance-wise out on that field. He went out there and just made this team that much better."

Machado said the additions of Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove and a handful of others sent a very clear message.

“We have a chance to do something special here,” he said.

Machado is coming off one of the best seasons of his decorated career in 2020. In the shortened 60-game campaign, he batted .304/.370/.580 with 16 homers and finished third place in National League MVP Award voting.

A year ago, upon arriving in camp, Machado declared himself "swole as hell" after bulking up during the winter. Considering the results that regimen produced, Machado didn't see any reason to alter his workout plan.

But Machado did make one noteworthy change. He had laser eye surgery, because he said his vision has felt slightly off during night games under the lights in recent seasons. Why make that change after a season in which he batted above .300?

"Hopefully it helps me see the ball a little better, and I can hit .320, .330," he said with a wry smile.

The Padres sure wouldn't mind that, but team officials have also made it clear they'll happily take more of the same from Machado.

"He's as strong as ever," said manager Jayce Tingler. "He's thick, he's strong, he's moving well. The first couple days he's looked really good. He's somebody obviously we've got a ton of confidence in. ... He seems to be in a really good place right now."

Of course, Machado no longer owns the most lucrative contract in franchise history -- or even on the left side of the Padres' infield. That distinction belongs to Fernando Tatis Jr., who inked a 14-year, $340 million deal earlier this month.

That's just fine with Machado, who has been vocal about how much he loves playing alongside Tatis -- and how that partnership has made both of them better players.

"We've been here since day one with him," Machado said. "We've been leading him in the right direction. He's a smart kid. He understands the game. He understand everything that comes with having the contract.

"I told him just: 'Go out there and keep playing. Keep doing you.'"

Words Machado himself has always lived by.

Worth noting

• In Snell's first live batting practice session since joining the Padres, he faced the entire "Slam Diego" lineup -- Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr., Wil Myers and Eric Hosmer. Snell looked very sharp, inducing a handful of swings and misses and only one ball in play -- a weak fly ball from Machado.

"He was on," Machado said. "I'm glad I don't have to face him no more, and he's on my side. His stuff was electric today."

• Tingler confirmed left-hander Ryan Weathers as the starter for Tuesday's game against the D-backs. Weathers follows Adrian Morejon (Sunday) and Chris Paddack (Monday) in the Padres' Cactus League rotation.

• Among the pitchers slated to throw after Morejon in Sunday's opener is right-hander Taylor Williams. The Padres were pleased to land Williams, who spent time as Mariners closer early last season, at the Trade Deadline. But considering the depth of their bullpen mix -- and the fact that Williams has options -- he's often forgotten about in the race for bullpen spots. Tingler cautioned against that.

"He's got real weapons," Tingler said. "He's got a two- and a four-seamer ... and then the way he spins the ball. The main thing is: He's had a good offseason, let's carry that into some of these games."

• Tingler added that the majority of his big league regulars are already "in baseball shape," and he expects a host of his projected starters to be in the lineup for Sunday’s opener against Seattle.