In early January, suspended New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez tweeted a photo of himself with Orioles third baseman Manny Machado and Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso attending a Jay-Z concert in South Florida.
Last month, Orioles manager Buck Showalter seemed to allude to the Machado-Rodriguez relationship without specifically mentioning A-Rod, saying, “We all make decisions about who we surround ourselves with.”
Well, Machado told FOX Sports this weekend in Boston that he considers Rodriguez not just a friend but a “great friend.” He added that he will remain close with Rodriguez even as A-Rod serves a 162-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs and attempting to hinder baseball’s investigation of the now-defunct Biogenesis Clinic.
“You can hang out with who you want,” Machado said. “He’s my friend. He’s done nothing wrong to me. He has been nothing but a great friend to me.
“Like a lot of people say, you always want to have good people tell you good things. That’s what I see with him. He helps me with my fielding, my hitting, even off-the-field stuff.”
Machado, however, made it clear that he does not approve of Rodriguez’s use of PEDs.
“What he has done, it is what it is. He did what he did. Do I put him on a pedestal for that? No. But he’s still my friend. That’s not going to change,” Machado said.
“It’s just like Adam (Jones) in here or anybody else: If you’re my friend, you’re my friend. You can’t push him aside because he did something bad in the past. All of us have.”
Machado and Rodriguez are both natives of Miami. Machado grew up idolizing Rodriguez and even displays some of the same mannerisms. Rodriguez once joked, “He does me better than me.”
Showalter, after Machado threw a bat toward third base and displayed other out-of-character behavior during a series against the Oakland Athletics last month, was asked if he had noticed any change in Machado since last season.
“When he’s here with us from February until, we hope, to October, he’s fine,” Showalter said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “I can’t tell you what happens when the season’s over. I don’t think anybody can.
“We all make decisions about who we surround ourselves with. We all go back to what our mom said, ‘You are who you hang around with.’ For seven or eight months, I know who he’s hanging around with, for the most part. He’s a good kid who means well. He just made a bad decision.”
Showalter was referring to Machado throwing his bat; baseball suspended Machado four games for that action and one game for an incident that occurred two days earlier, when he took exception to a tag by A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Machado has said repeatedly that he regrets his conduct that weekend and that he will learn from it. He does not, however, regret his friendship with Rodriguez.