Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Manny Machado is widely viewed as one of the game's top players. During the regular season, he hit .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs. He'll qualify for free agency this winter and, at age 26, is likely to receive a lucrative long-term deal from a contender.
Yet all the talk about Machado during the National League Championship Series has concerned topics other than his talent or his production. In Game 2, he failed to run out a grounder in what turned out to be a one-run game. In Game 3, he made a pair of questionable slides, with the latter resulting in a double play.
Ken Rosenthal talked to Machado in an interview that FS1 will air before Game 4 on Tuesday night. Prior to that, Rosenthal posted the part of the transcript on the Athletic. Here's Machado, in his own words, on why he doesn't run hard:
"Uhhh … (pause) … I've been thinking about it and it happens every time, 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. (Machado actually just completed his seventh season.)
"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.
Give Machado credit for this much: That's not a stock answer. He could've said he doesn't run hard in order to conserve energy for later in games or series -- or that he doesn't want to pull something trying to beat out a play that gets converted into an out 99.9 percent of the time. Instead he was forthright: He doesn't always hustle. He knows that.
At the same time, it is odd for Machado to offer these comments weeks before his free agency begins. Are teams going to value Machado less because he doesn't run hard on grounders to short? No, not likely. But it does mean he's certain to face more questions about his hustle heading forward -- be it this winter, next spring, or next October.