SARASOTA, Fla. — Around this time last year, Manny Machado was spending his spring on a nomadic journey shuffling between Baltimore’s minor league and major league camps. He wore No. 95. When he made appearances in the major league camp, he dressed in an auxiliary clubhouse isolated from the big league players.
But after an early-August call-up from Class AA Bowie — a move that helped propel the Orioles to the playoffs — the 20-year-old Machado is entrenched in the clubhouse this spring. No more checking the schedule daily to see in which camp he’ll play.
“I’m physically a part of the team now,” Machado said Friday, the Orioles’ report day for position players. “I’m here in the clubhouse with the guys. I’m bonding with everybody, and I know everybody’s faces. I know most of the guys here. Instead of being in the back room, I’m out here. It’s just a different mentality.”
Machado, the Orioles’ first-round pick (third overall) in 2010, came up through the minors as a shortstop. But his immediate future lies at third base, where he fortified the Orioles’ defense last year despite never previously playing there.
Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said Friday that Machado will stay at third, joking that a line’s been painted on the left side of the infield dirt that Machado’s been told not to pass.
His debut was fitting for a phenom: Two hits in his major league debut, two homers in his second game, three in his first four, and a bevy of sparkling plays at third, including a now-famous fake throw home on a grounder that coaxed a runner off third base in a win against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Given his success in the majors last season, it would be a shock if Machado isn’t the team’s opening day third baseman, but he knows he has to win the starting job.
“Nothing is given, especially with Buck,” Machado said. “I know what he did the year before. He’s not handing out jobs to anybody. You have to go out there and you have to earn your job.”
Said Showalter: “It’s not so much that I’m going to tell him that. His actions will speak so loudly that I won’t be able to hear a word that he said or I say. If I feel like this has to be said, we have options at every place. I have high expectations of him bringing what he needs to bring for us to continue to think that he can contribute for us.”
The organization got a scare in November when Machado suffered from a bout with viral meningitis. Machado said he has typically suffered from migraine headaches, and they got so bad that he went to the hospital on Nov. 1.
Medication for the headaches didn’t work, so doctors feared he might have meningitis and performed a spinal tap.
“You want no part of that,” Machado said. “When you hear spinal tap and you hear meningitis, you know this is a deadly virus you can get. There’s nothing fun about that, there’s nothing good about that. When I heard about that, it was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard.”
Machado spent two days in the hospital and couldn’t train for three weeks.
This season, Machado hopes to continue to make a name for himself. Last year was a solid debut, but Machado faces loftier expectations in his first full season.
“My mentality this year is to go out there and give it everything I’ve got,” he said. “When you give 100 percent and you give it all out, everything falls into place. This is my first actual big league camp as a big leaguer. It’s going to be a good experience going in, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
The team and Jair Jurrjens agreed to a minor league contract Friday night with an invitation to spring training.
The move was announced more than three weeks after the sides reportedly reached a deal.
Jurrjens, 27, an NL All-Star in 2011 with Atlanta, is 53-37 with a 3.62 ERA in six major league seasons, five with the Braves. The right-hander was demoted to the minors last season, when he was hampered by a strained groin and finished 3-4 with a 6.89 ERA.
Jurrjens has a history of knee and groin injuries. Atlanta did not offer him a contract after last season.