02/15/2013 5:30 PM ET
Machado concentrating on just third base
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- A year ago, Manny Machado wasn't officially in big league camp, his locker tucked away in the auxiliary clubhouse behind the Major Leaguers.
Fresh off an impressive rookie campaign, the 20-year-old is penciled in as the Orioles' starting third baseman, a position he's still learning but one he will get every opportunity to succeed at.
"It's still tough," said Machado, who made the move from shortstop to third base when he was promoted on Aug 9. "I'm not really used to it, comfortable with it, but it definitely does help that I played it before going into [this season]. I still feel like a shortstop, but it's kind of a good thing sometimes instead of just thinking like a third baseman."
Machado has been doing infield work with third-base coach Bobby Dickerson, and the emphasis is on continuing to shore up Machado's defense at the hot corner, where he posted a .967 fielding percentage in 51 games, committing five errors in 151 chances.
With no clear-cut backup to shortstop J.J. Hardy, could Machado be an option?
"No," manager Buck Showalter said of the prospect of giving Machado any time at shortstop this spring. "It doesn't need to be answered, but the question is whether -- God forbid -- [if] we have a long-term injury to J.J., where do we go? That's why we want to find out our options are at shortstop behind J.J."
Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla are two options in camp to back up Hardy, and the plan is for Machado to stay put at third base and continue to build on a 2012 campaign in which the former first-round pick posted a .262/.294/.445 line with seven homers and 26 RBIs.
"I think last year I locked in watching a lot of video, watching how pitchers pitch, the sequence," Machado, the third overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft said of his first taste of big league pitching. "So this year I am really focusing on watching more video and watching the film of the pitchers we are going to be facing."
Showalter has surprise in store for club
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles' entire team and coaching staff will start filtering back to the Ed Smith Stadium Complex on Friday night for a 6 p.m. ET "meeting" that marks the annual surprise manager Buck Showalter is known for.
Showalter has long been of the belief that Spring Training is not just for teaching, but also for team building. On the eve of the first full-squad workout the previous two camps, the club boarded buses and was taken to a local movie theater. While the two films differed, the message -- a motivational montage featuring clips of the Orioles playing and other famous sports sequences -- have essentially been the same.
This year's exact outing is again a mystery, as Showalter likes to add in the element of surprise and keep things quiet, with nothing more than a vague team meeting for players to report back for.
Showalter didn't offer any details when asked if he had another surprise in store earlier in the week, joking with inquiring reporters that perhaps he'd do something Sarasota is more known for, such as the circus or a local comedy club. While he was managing the Rangers, Showalter took his team to Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz., one spring and had the players speak to fighter pilots and watch video of them in action.
"We've got backups; it's all about the entertainment," Showalter said. "There's a lot of pressure on a lot of us that put it together, because word kind of gets around and the guys are kind of wondering what's up your sleeve. I don't want to get too predictable."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.