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Manny ramps up routine, set for 'very fun year'

@oapostrophesd
January 11, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- A year ago, Manny Machado was unsigned. He was as likely to be on a plane to visit a potential new employer as he was to be in the gym or the batting cage. And now? “My focus is just on baseball and getting better,” Machado said

SAN DIEGO -- A year ago, Manny Machado was unsigned. He was as likely to be on a plane to visit a potential new employer as he was to be in the gym or the batting cage.

And now?

“My focus is just on baseball and getting better,” Machado said Saturday during a visit to Petco Park for the Padres’ annual FanFest.

Jayce Tingler can vouch for that. Machado already has injured his new manager with his 2020 focus.

Let’s explain: Since being hired as the Padres' manager, Tingler has visited several players in their hometowns to get to know them before everyone gathers in Arizona next month for Spring Training. During a visit to Miami, Tingler joined his third baseman for a workout and paid the price running sprints.

“I tried to keep up with him on a couple things and tweaked my hamstring,” Tingler said. “I was thoroughly impressed with the work he’s doing. I’m excited for him.”

Machado’s offseason of uncertainty stretched until Spring Training was underway last year. He signed his 10-year, $300 million contract on Feb. 21. Next came the media and marketing hoopla that overlapped with his short window to get to know his new team and prepare for the season.

Then came the season itself. Machado posted a 3.1 Wins Above Replacement, per Fangraphs -- half his level of play from 2018. A 32-homer season is nothing to sniff at, but Machado weakened in the final two months as the Padres closed with a 20-35 record, posting a .209/.305/.348 slash line down the stretch.

“You can blame it on me; you can blame it on so many other things,” Machado said. “At the end of the day, it was a team effort. As a team, we didn’t perform as well as the first half. With the young team that we have, it was a great learning experience.

“Speaking with the young players during the offseason, everybody’s hungry. We left that taste in our mouths of letting it slip out of our hands after the break. We don’t want that to happen again this year. Everybody’s getting ready for the season. At the same time, everybody’s pumped. We’re not going to forget how bad we played in the second half. We’re going to use that as motivation.”

Machado certainly has. He said he worked with his private trainers to take his offseason regimen “to the next level.” Tingler, sore hamstring and all, marveled at the intensity of the workouts. The goal is for Machado to return to Machado numbers.

“Every year, you want to be the best player you possibly can,” Machado said. “It’s interesting to see where I am now compared to years past. Just trying to stay healthy. If I can stay healthy all year, the numbers will be there and the performance will be there.”

As he prepares his body for the rigors of 162 games, Machado conceded that his mind is in a better place, too.

“I’m more relaxed this year,” he said. “I guess there’s always business in baseball, but now we’ve got the business put aside and done with. … It’s been a nice, fresh breath of air. We have such a special team here, such a special group of guys. It’s awesome to be a part of.

“I was left a little short last year, no excuses. This year, mentally, I’m in the right place to go out and leave it all out on the field and do everything I can to help everyone around me. It’s going to be a very fun year.”

Shaun O'Neill is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @oapostrophesd.