Manny Machado is intent on cleaning up his reputation entering the biggest offseason of his career.
The former Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop raised plenty of eyebrows during the 2018 playoffs when he openly admitted hustling to first base is "not my cup of tea." Machado now is an unrestricted free agent, though, and can't have other teams thinking he's anti-hustle.
So, the four-time All-Star attempted to clear the air about those controversial comments.
"When I was asked that question, I was definitely on the defensive, and I was wrong to answer it the way that I did, because looking back, it doesn't come across how I meant it," Machado told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.
"For me, I was trying to talk about how I'm not the guy who is eye wash. There's a difference between fake hustle for show and being someone who tries hard to win. I've always been the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team."
We (kind of) see where Machado is coming from, but a supposed aversion to hustle isn't the only criticism he faces. The 26-year-old also gained a reputation as a dirty player on the basepaths thanks to a questionable slide in the National League Championship Series and his apparent spike of Boston Red Sox first baseman Steve Pearce in the World Series.
Of course, Machado also is an immensely talented player -- he hit .297 with 37 home runs and 107 RBIs last season -- who should have no trouble finding work this offseason.
But his reputation apparently is affecting his free agent stock already: Yankees legend Reggie Jackson warned recently that Machado's original hustle comments "ain't going to play" in New York if the Bronx Bombers end up pursuing him.
Machado is well aware of the chatter, however.
"I know how I said it and how that came across, and it's something I take responsibility for," he added. "I look forward to talking with each GM and owner that we meet with about that, or any other questions they have."
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