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Oh Manny! Machado off to blistering spring start

Orioles slugger goes 3-for-3 on Friday, crushes 3-run homer to remain hot amid switch to shortstop
Special to MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- It's been an amazing Spring Training so far for Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, and he continued his torrid start with a 3-for-3 day on Friday, cranking a three-run home run and an RBI double in the Orioles' 10-8 win over the Phillies.

Machado is batting .615 (8-for-13) with two home runs and eight RBIs. That's not his usual spring standard. Last year, when he left to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, Machado was just 4-for-26 with one RBI, and he's a lifetime .257 hitter in Spring Training.

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- It's been an amazing Spring Training so far for Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, and he continued his torrid start with a 3-for-3 day on Friday, cranking a three-run home run and an RBI double in the Orioles' 10-8 win over the Phillies.

Machado is batting .615 (8-for-13) with two home runs and eight RBIs. That's not his usual spring standard. Last year, when he left to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, Machado was just 4-for-26 with one RBI, and he's a lifetime .257 hitter in Spring Training.

View Full Game Coverage

At the beginning of this spring, the story was Machado's move from third base to shortstop. That's become a non-story, and so far it's been all about offense for Machado, who can't explain his hot start.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I have no idea. I guess luck. I mean, I don't know," Machado said. "I've got to slow down a little bit and try to get some of this for April and May and June and July. I don't know, I'm just going out there and enjoying myself. I'm excited to be here, excited to be part of this ballclub, and just going out there every day with the guys that I've been dealing with and running with for the last seven years has been amazing."

Machado had a slow start to last season, and at the end of June, he was batting .216. But he finished strongly, ending with a .259 batting average to go with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs.

"He's in a good place, you can tell," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's swinging it well."

Showalter has long said he doesn't look at stat sheets during Spring Training.

"I don't pay that much attention to it this time of year unless it's real, real bad," he said.

Machado, who's eligible for free agency following this season, has kept an even keel amid the hot start and the seamless transition to short.

Video: Manny Machado talks about moving to shortstop

"Getting some reps at short and doing all the work that I could be doing early in camp and getting as much reps as I can at short has been awesome," Machado said. "And the team's looking pretty good."

Machado has always tried to separate his offensive game from his defensive one.

"That's the toughest thing about [being] a baseball player," Machado says. "Good baseball players play both sides of the field. [It's hard to try and] separate when you go 0-for-4 or when you go 0-for-20. Are you going to take it out on the field?

"Everybody has to work on that. I think that's the biggest key for me: Go out there and just try and separate it. I've got to be a leader on defense. Whatever happens at the plate, I just leave it in the dugout, and things will always turn out [fine]."

For the 25-year-old, who has already won two Gold Gloves and been an All-Star three times, 2017 was a trying year.

"I think with the struggles that I had last year, I learned a lot about just putting that in the past, and you can't control the outcome of anything," Machado said.

Machado started out as a shortstop and didn't play third until he came up with the Orioles in August 2012.

"Playing at short, I'm going to have more opportunities, and save some runs and help the team win," Machado said. "That's all we can do."

Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com who covered the Orioles on Friday.

Baltimore Orioles, Manny Machado