Machado wears his 'hustle' words: 'No regrets'

June 19th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- In the moments following the Padres’ blowout loss to the Phillies on Monday night, Mike Shildt made a point to compliment for his hustle on the bases, including a play that led to one of the Padres’ two runs on an otherwise lost night.

Machado’s effort level -- which was brought into question during his free-agent process during the 2018-19 offseason -- hasn’t been an issue during his six-season stint in San Diego. But the words “Johnny Hustle” -- an unfortunate turn of phrase used by Machado in November 2018 -- continue to hover over the six-time All-Star.

Shortly after Shildt noted Machado’s effort Monday night, the third baseman was asked if he was aware that some can occasionally take issue with the way that effort level looks on the field.

“It’s not my problem, what they think,” Machado said. “Everyone has an opinion.”

Such is life in the spotlight, a space Machado has occupied since he was drafted No. 3 overall by the Orioles in 2010.

On Tuesday, Machado offered some additional thoughts during an extensive interview with, acknowledging that although his prior comments will never be forgotten, his only concern is what the people inside the Padres’ clubhouse think of his effort level.

“I said what I said; it’s fair, and I can’t take that back,” Machado said of his 2018 comments. “Obviously, it was misinterpreted and people still take it out of context and take it overboard. It’s probably going to [continue], but I have no regrets. I continue to play, continue to grow and get better at different things in life and get better at baseball.

“For me, it's a gift and a curse. I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to be a star in this game and be a person who can make impact around the game, so cameras are always around and they capture every moment. People these days just want to get likes and get clicks, get whatever on social media for their own personal satisfaction. I really don't know why it keeps getting brought up. But for me, it's what the guys in here see -- that's what really counts.”

Machado even poked a bit of fun at himself, noting that nobody is going to confuse him with some of the league’s true burners.

“People think I'm a speedster, like I’m Ha-Seong Kim or Elly De La Cruz,” Machado said. “I weigh 230 pounds. I've never been a fast runner in my entire career. I wish I had that speed because I would be a different player, but I don't. I give my 100% every single time. It might not look like people want it to look like, but that's not who I am.”

Shildt and Machado shared some quality time together Sunday after the pair were ejected in the sixth inning of a game against the Mets. They spoke about Machado’s recent hip flexor strain, an injury that has impacted the infielder’s ability to run. So when Shildt saw Machado take an extra base Monday night on Brandon Marsh’s error in center field and bust it down the line on a ground ball later in the game, he seized the opportunity to compliment his player.

“I'm not ever going to alibi lack of effort,” Shildt said. “But if you play 162 games and you're playing with something you're banged up on, being able to pick your spot to regulate is part of it. It just is. … When you have it, you give it. He gave it tonight.”

That Shildt offered up those words unprompted seemed unusual, but the manager knows the perception some have of Machado, so he wanted to credit his star for what he saw on the field.

“I don’t pay attention to a lot of the peripheral things that take place, but I do know that there’s some understandable evaluation of it,” Shildt said. “I just wanted to reward two really good examples of that. … Everybody's got a job to do, and everybody's accountable for every bit of their actions. He accepts that. There’s no question you come with a bigger target if you're Manny Machado.”

Machado took four days off to recover from the hip flexor strain he suffered on June 5, never considering a trip to the injured list. That’s not how he’s wired, having played in at least 150 games in seven consecutive full seasons from 2015-22 (as well as all 60 games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign) before ending that streak last year when he appeared in 138 games.

“Anybody else would have gone on the IL,” Machado said. “Something has to be broken for me not to play. My 60 or 70% is 100 for a lot of people in this game. I’m not trying to sound cocky or anything, but I know what my ability can do. There are going to be times where you're going to run it out to get the extra base and score a run like I did [Monday], which nobody talks about.

“That’s what kind of [ticks] me off a little bit. People who watch us play every single day can have an opinion. But when you just catch a glimpse and you just see a highlight, you don't have the full story.”

Offseason elbow surgery limited Machado to DH duties in Spring Training and for the first month of the season. Although the issue may have contributed to his slow start, he never considered taking things slow to start the year.

The numbers reflect it. Machado entered Tuesday with six home runs, 33 RBIs and a .672 OPS in 68 games. He was getting hot when the hip issue surfaced, posting a .912 OPS in the 17 games leading up to that day.

“He was in a really good place,” Shildt said. “You look at the numbers, and he wasn't putting together a game or two; he was putting together Manny. … He came back, and now it looks like he's back to having his legs under him. So he can pick back up where he left off and pick up to where he's done historically in his career.”

Machado was back in the lineup Tuesday, hitting fourth and playing third base. He continues to do rehab work on his elbow. And while the hip flexor isn’t 100%, it’s good enough for him to take the field to help the Padres get out of their recent funk. Machado wouldn’t have it any other way.

“There are times when you have to grind through it, and your body will tell you what your 100% is,” Machado said. “You give what you can every single day. And at the end of the day, we're all going to pick each other up. Shildty emphasizes that -- as long as you're giving that 100% effort, that's all we can ask for.”