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Nobody will ever mistake Manny Machado for Pete Rose, aka Charlie Hustle.
And Machado is fine with that.
The Los Angeles Dodgers star has drawn criticism for not giving 100 percent on every play, but he doesn’t plan on changing his playing style, as he told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal:
“There’s no excuse for it, honestly. I’ve never given excuses for not running. I’m not hurt, there’s no excuse, but I’ve been the same player. … I’ve been doing this for eight years, I’m in The Show for eight years, I’ve done the same thing for eight years, I’ve been the same player.
“Obviously I’m not going to change. I’m not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle’ and run down the line and slide to first base and … you know, whatever can happen. That’s just not my personality, that’s not my cup of tea, that’s not who I am.”
Machado drew scrutiny for failing to run out a ball hit deep in the hole during Game 2 of the National League Championship Series:
The four-time All-Star told Rosenthal:
“Should I have run on that pitch? Yeah … but I didn’t and I gotta pay the consequences for it. It does look bad. It looks terrible. I look back at the video and I’m like, ‘Whoa, what was I doing?’ You know, just the emotions of the game … I’m the type of player that has stayed in the zone, I’m playing and I’m just in the zone.
“On 3-0, I’m trying to drive one out. I hit a 100 mph groundball (actually 76 mph) right into the shift, right to the shortstop. … Before I even step out of the box, I look to the shortstop, he has the ball in his hands and I’m like, ‘I’m out.’ … I mean, what am I going to do?
“Should I have given it a little more effort? One hundred percent. [It’s] my fault like always. I mean, that’s just my mentality when I’m in the game. [There are] things that you learn, things that you gotta change. I’ve tried changing it for eight years and I still can’t figure it out, but one of these days I will.”
Machado might be able to get away with that play during the fourth inning of a game in May, but with the spotlight on in October, every detail of a game gets put under the microscope. Especially when a little bit of hustle could be the difference between a hit and an out.
Fortunately for Machado, the lack of hustle on that day didn’t contribute to a loss. Los Angeles evened the series at 1-1 with a 4-3 victory in Game 2.
Machado has been one of the Dodgers’ top hitters this postseason. He has hit .286 with three home runs, two doubles and nine RBI in seven games. His .455 average in the NLCS ranks second on the team, and he owns one of the team’s two home runs in the series.
Taking it easy on a routine grounder could occasionally cost the team a baserunner, but it also reduces the risk of injury. Machado, who underwent left knee surgery in 2014, has played in at least 156 games in five of the past six seasons.
The 26-year-old is expected to become among the highest-paid players in MLB history when he hits the free-agent market this winter. Some teams may want their superstar players to leave it all on the field, especially with the World Series on the line. However, Machado’s bat and glove—especially at the hot corner—are valuable enough that any interested suitor can look past his lackadaisical effort.