Reggie Jackson on the Yankees' interest in Manny Machado: His lack of hustle 'ain't going to play' in New York

The New York Yankees are widely expected to be in the mix for free-agent infielder Manny Machado, who figures to command a contract worth more than $300 million. Given the scale of the investment, Machado's right now being vigorously dissected by any potential suitor, and that of course involves in part his noted inconsistency when it comes to hustling out of the batter's box. 

During the World Series, Machado's lack of hustle was a leading subplot, and he addressed the matter by saying he wasn't and probably never would be a "Johnny Hustle" type. With any player, you accept his merits with his demerits, and with Machado you accept that he can perform at an MVP-ish level while on presumably rare occasion not sprinting down the line. 

Insofar as the Yankees' interest is concerned, Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner voiced some reservations about Machado, in large measure because of those comments. Now Hall of Famer and Yankee adviser Reggie Jackson has stepped into the Machado fray. Here are the goods from Wallace Matthews of the New York Daily News

But when informed that earlier in the day, Steinbrenner had said he would need a satisfactory explanation from Machado, Jackson said, "Me too.''

"I can't understand a player saying that. That ain't going to play here," he said. "I was a pretty good player and I ran hard every single at-bat. It takes talent to run fast, but it doesn't take talent to run hard. Effort is the least we can ask of ourselves.''

This is a common refrain among old-school baseball sorts, and it's of course understandable. Consistent hustle is laudable and to be encouraged. It doesn't always happen, though, and it sometimes it's just a function of momentary distraction as opposed to inveterate laziness. Professional athletes, after all, don't typically shrink from physical exertion. Jackson himself, despite claims to the contrary, famously displayed a lack of hustle on June 18, 1977, when Yankees manager Billy Martin pulled Jackson from the field mid-inning after he made at best a half-hearted effort to retrieve a Jim Rice hit. Martin and Jackson almost came to blows in the dugout. 

The safe assumption is that every player who plays long enough suffers such a lapse. No player always gives maximum effort, even if they insist they did decades later. The question, again, is whether a player who on occasion doesn't give him best effort on the bases is otherwise worth it at the going rates. That's what the Yankees and any other team interested in Machado must determine. 

Here's a free high-level consultation: Yes, Machado is worth it despite the occasional lack of hustle. 

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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