By Ken Stone and Chris Stone
But the 27-year-old third baseman showed he could put on a positive game face Saturday during media interviews at a crowded FanFest.
“We deal with that all the time,” he said of his fallow period, especially in the second half of the team’s bottom-dwelling 70-92 season. “We go through those stretches quite a bit. You just overcome that and you learn from it, and you get better.”
Asked what he did this offseason, Machado recited his “normal” training — hitting, weights, field work, sprinting. “Just doing what I’ve done for the last eight years of my career.”“Staying healthy” was his No. 1 offseason goal, he said. “That’s always on the top of my list. … doing everything I can to get as strong as possible to come out here and perform for 162 games.”
First-year manager Jayce Tingler said Machado had a great offseason.
“He’s working extremely hard,” he said, noting trying to keep up with his sprint workouts in Florida (where the player bought a waterfront mansion in Coral Gables for $11.3 million).
Quizzed on his expectations for the $300 million man (over 10 years), Tingler said: “For him to be himself.”
The 39-year-old rookie skipper hailed Machado’s “level of intensity” in workouts, saying: “I was just thoroughly impressed with the work that he’s been doing and especially down in Miami.”
Machado also had a chance to praise his breakout teammate Fernando Tatís Jr., whose season-ending back injury in mid-August was attributed to his all-out style of play.
“We all saw the talent in him,” Machado said. “He did everything this year we could possibly ask for. He left it on the field, he plays hard, he does what he needs to do within the lines and even outside the lines.”
A reporter asked if shortstop Tatís was a “young Machado.”
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“Yes, he is,” the original said. “But he’s still got a lot to live up to. … We’ve all overcome some injuries…. He’s still got a long way to go before he’s Machado.”
Tingler said staff reports on Tatís’ recovery “have been ultra-positive. … The organization is very encouraged about where he’s at right now.”
But the manager said he’s not prepared to tell Tatis to slow down.
“Obviously, he has unique ability,” Tingler told reporters in the “exclusive” Lexus Home Plate Club lounge. “I hate to change any style to the way he plays. I personally admire somebody who goes 100% and dives and goes headfirst.”
But if Tatís reaches the point of being “a little bit out of control,” Tingler and his medical/training staff will “sit down and talk about that,” he said.
Tatís — who recently turned 21 — wasn’t available Saturday, but Machado seemed to speak for him as well as himself.
“This year, mentally, I’m in the right place to go out there and just leave it all on the field,” Machado said. “It’s going to be a very fun year.”
Of his own stats, he said: “The numbers will be there, the performance will be there. … and having this new uniform on, which will be awesome. … It looks pretty good on me.”
FanFest — held again before spring training starts in Peoria, Arizona — drew a reported 16,000 adult and kid fans — many already wearing the new brown-and-gold uniforms. Players signed autographs. Parents and children ran the bases and jumped at the walls to catch fly balls.
The Padres’ former blue uniforms and other gear were half-price.
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