WASHINGTON (AP) – Manny Machado walked the red carpet shirtless in a double-breasted suit, took a selfie on the field and smiled through six innings of carefree baseball.
When he was done playing in his fourth All-Star Game on Tuesday night, Machado peeled off his Orioles uniform for perhaps the final time.
Then he walked out of Nationals Stadium with his family, not bothering to stick around after the game to answer another round of questions about a potential trade that would end his stay in Baltimore.
The 26-year-old shortstop is expected to be dealt any day now, possibly before Baltimore returns from the break to play in Toronto on Friday night.
In the meantime, Machado was the center of attention before and during the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969.
A huge media throng buzzed around his locker prior to batting practice. During BP, Machado joked with Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp outside the cage.
Then came the game. Machado went 0 for 2 – a fly ball and a popup – before exiting for a pinch hitter in the sixth inning.
“I’m just trying to enjoy this moment with the American League guys,” Machado told FOX in the dugout. “If this is the last time (in a Baltimore uniform), hopefully I treated them well and did everything I can for the organization.”
The deal is going to happen soon, most likely well before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
But to which team will he be dealt? The Dodgers? Phillies? Brewers?
Who wouldn’t want a power-hitting shortstop in the middle of a pennant run?
“Things are getting serious now,” Dodgers right-hander Ross Stripling said. “That’s the kind of bat and the kind of player that you want in your lineup.”
Kemp, a three-time All-Star, said of Machado: “He’s actually one of my favorite players to watch. I hit with him in the offseason two years ago. He’s a great player. If that’s something that happens I think LA would be excited about it and (it would) definitely help our team win more games.”
In his first at-bat Tuesday night, Machado hit a routine fly to Kemp in left field. Then, after Kemp doubled in the second inning, Machado walked to second base and clicked a “selfie” with the player who could be his future teammate.
All the speculation, the repetitive questions and the crowds around his locker couldn’t put a damper on the All-Star experience for Machado, who has never played for any big league team but the Orioles.
“It’s awesome,” Machado said beforehand. “Every time you put on the Oriole uniform it’s always a great blessing, and you always want the opportunity to put that on. Just put it on, go play shortstop when I get my name announced. I know there’s going to be some Baltimore fans out there, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Machado insisted he knew nothing of a deal.
“I haven’t heard anything,” he said. “I’m just worried about the game today, and whatever happens moving forward will happen. There will be a time and place for everything.”
In the meantime, he’s been trying to cope with an uncertain future.
“He’s got to be going through some emotions. It’s probably tough for him,” said Mike Trout, whose locker was next to Machado’s. “I’m sure he wants this thing to be over.”
Machado is under contract through the end of the season, but the Orioles can’t afford to provide him to a new, huge deal as well as rebuild a team that currently stands in last place in the AL East.
By the end of the week, he could be wearing a new uniform and playing in a different league.
Freelance writer Brian McNally contributed to this report.
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