Manny Machado, on the verge of what could be one of the richest free-agent contracts in baseball history, wants teams to know that he is “the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team” and hopes to clarify his “Johnny Hustle” comment from the postseason.
Machado addressed the controversial remark in an interview with MLB.com, saying that he understands how it “came across, and it’s something I take responsibility for.”
“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.”
Manny Machado on ‘Johnny Hustle’ comment from postseason
In response to criticism for not running out a groundball during the National League Championship Series, Machado said last month that he is “not the type of player that’s going to be ‘Johnny Hustle’ and run down the line and slide to first base.”
That comment was met with more criticism at the time and has attracted attention and scrutiny from potential suitors in free agency, including the New York Yankees.
“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, which published the interview Wednesday. “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.
“But I know how I said it and how that came across, and it’s something I take responsibility for. I look forward to talking with each GM and owner that we meet with about that, or any other questions they have.”
Machado acknowledged to MLB.com that “multiple teams” have expressed interest in him but did not reveal the identity of the clubs. The four-time All-Star said he would begin meeting with teams once he and his representatives have narrowed down the list of clubs.
One team linked to Machado is the Yankees, who have plenty of money to spend after coming in under the luxury tax threshold last season for the first time since the penalty took effect in 2003.
Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told reporters last week that Machado’s postseason comments about hustle were “troubling,” but general manager Brian Cashman said he would reserve judgment until having a chance to meet with the star infielder.
Machado, 26, is one of the top two free agents on the market, along with outfielder Bryce Harper, after a three-plus-month stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Machado was acquired from the Orioles in mid-July and took over the shortstop job that opened when Corey Seager tore an elbow ligament in late April that required season-ending surgery.
Machado hit .273 with 13 homers and 42 RBIs in 66 games, and the Dodgers won their second straight NL pennant. He hit .227 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 16 postseason games, including .182 (4-for-22) with three RBIs in the five-game World Series loss to Boston.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.