SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manny Machado's first experience facing the Baltimore Orioles was a thrilling one. The All-Star got to play Tuesday for the country where his parents were born."It was exciting. Just the atmosphere in here, it's crazy. A little different than being on the other side, across the field
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manny Machado's first experience facing the Baltimore Orioles was a thrilling one. The All-Star got to play Tuesday for the country where his parents were born.
"It was exciting. Just the atmosphere in here, it's crazy. A little different than being on the other side, across the field where we played today," Machado said after the O's 5-4 exhibition win over the Dominican Republic. "It was definitely interesting, and I'm excited to see what's going to come going forward."
Rather than donning the home whites of the Orioles, Machado put on the visitors' grey uniform with the red and blue trim of Team Dominican Republic. Rather than his familiar No. 13, he's wearing No. 3 during the World Baseball Classic.
Machado seemed a little lost at Ed Smith Stadium, the O's home park. Four hours before game time, wearing the opponent's gear, he wandered into the Orioles' clubhouse to visit with his teammates and made sure they knew what was important to him.
"I know we're trying to get ready for the season, but I'm over here trying to compete and trying to win a title," Machado said.
Although Machado has five big league seasons on his resume, along with impressive credentials, he is still the youngest player on the Dominican team. He's using the Classic as a learning experience.
"I'm going to learn from these guys, I'm going to learn from all of them," Machado said. "This is how they play throughout their lives. It will be interesting to see how to go about our business here and be part of a team like always."
• Morosi: Machado at home with Team DR
Machado was born in Miami but is playing for the Dominican Republic in homage to his family. His mother was thrilled with his choice, he said.
"She's ecstatic and excited that I chose to represent us," Machado said.
"I wanted to do it for my family, not for myself. I've given them a lot and I'm going to continue to give them. That's the only thing we can do to our mothers and fathers, give them back what they gave us, which is our lives. Any opportunity like this, I get teared up.
"I saw my Dad in the stands. I hadn't seen him in a while, and he looked at me and said, 'Man, I got chills just watching you wear those colors and representing something that's really big for us.'"
Right-hander Kevin Gausman, the Orioles' likely Opening Day starter, drew the assignment of starting vs. Machado and the vaunted Dominican lineup on Tuesday, going three scoreless, hitless innings.
Gausman retired Machado on a groundout to third baseman Ryan Flaherty in the first.
"Obviously, a really good lineup. Most important thing was I got Manny out," Gausman joked. "It's cool. We're all competitive. Once we're out there, it's about pitching and outs."
Gausman knew it wasn't an everyday March game, not with a lineup featuring Machado, Baltimore's new catcher, Welington Castillo, former teammate Nelson Cruz and Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano.
"You hear the music, both national anthems. I thought that was really cool. You almost feel like you're in the Dominican," Gausman said. "There's probably more Dominican fans here than Orioles fans. I've never heard a crowd get so happy when you walk somebody. They're excited to see their guys, and for them, just like Team USA, those guys are heroes down there. Kids down there grow up idolizing Cano and Cruz and guys like that, and now Manny's one of those guys, too."
Although it was an exhibition game and the stats don't count, there is still a great deal on the line. If Machado had gotten a hit off Gausman?
"I probably would have heard it a couple of times throughout the season," Gausman said. "But he's 0-for-2 against me right now [including an intrasquad game], so I'm pretty happy."
Machado knows Gausman has the bragging rights -- for now.
"Yeah, he's got me," Machado said with a laugh. "But he's our ace, he's the guy, he's supposed to get me out. I was just trying to cut him some slack there a little bit."
Rich Dubroff is a contributor for MLB.com. Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com