Manny Machado is entering year two with the San Diego Padres, and he indicated that he spent the offseason trying to barrel up more balls.
Originally scheduled to make his Spring Training debut, the rain put a temporary hold on Manny Machado‘s new approach at the plate, and it immediately paid off on Monday afternoon. And while the Padres lost 8-5 against the Kansas City Royals, there were several positives to take away from the exhibition contest.
Vying for a spot in the rotation, Cal Quantrill made an impressive start, tossing two innings while striking out four batters. He did allow two hits and one earned run against the nine batters he faced, and also hit a batter in the bottom of the first inning.
As noted, Machado smacked his first home run of the spring, in his first at-bat on a 2-0 pitch from Royals’ pitcher, Brad Keller. Per AJ Cassevell of MLB.com, the Padres’ $300 million man indicated that he was “working on some things this offseason, and I’m just trying to barrel up some more balls.”
Last season, Machado put the barrel on the ball at just an eight percent clip, the lowest since the 2015 season. I have a sense that the expectations of his contract caused him to overthink things a bit, but he should be set for a huge year in 2020 and knows that the most challenging aspect is consistency:
"“I worked on it during the offseason, and Day 1, it paid off pretty well,” Machado said. “Now the hard part is to continue doing it.”"
Regarding the rest of the team, Fernando Tatis Jr. smacked a double into the right-center field gap and finished the day 1-3 at the plate.
Josh Naylor is going to make a case for regular playing time this year. The former 12th overall pick of the 2015 MLB Draft lost a substantial amount of weight this offseason and went 2-3 on Monday, including an RBI single back up the middle.