After all of those questions about his leadership and his impact on the San Diego Padres clubhouse, Manny Machado certainly seems intent on proving exactly what he means to this Padres team and dispel some of those thoughts in the process.
With a pair of home runs on Friday night, Machado paced the Padres to their eighth straight victory, this one coming at the expense of the St. Louis Cardinals as San Diego opened its final home series of the 2023 campaign. Machado, as San Diego fans well know, was at the center of an article by Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune that discussed the "culture, cohesion and chemistry" of the Padres. Since then, it seems that Machado has done everything he can to show exactly what kind of leader he is and his teammates have voiced their support of him.
Manny Machado playing through pain for San Diego Padres
Postponing elbow surgery until the Padres are officially eliminated from the postseason, Machado is choosing to play this season while also acknowledging that waiting to get surgery could impact his timetable to be ready for 2024. However, in a Padres clubhouse that is certainly in "win now" mode, Machado is leading that charge. After all, as the 2023 Padres have proven, nothing is guaranteed in this game except the present.
Over his last seven games (a span of 30 at-bats), Machado is slashing .300/.344/.733 with four homers sprinkled in among the nine hits he has totaled. The elbow may be keeping him from playing third base but, as Bryce Harper has shown, superstars can still make an impact with only their bat.
While there have been questions about Machado's play and attitude this season, there can be little question that he is showing out at the right moment as the Padres simply refuse to let this season die.
"Ultimately, we made a call at the beginning of the year. It was to try to reach a goal. That goal’s still not done yet,” Machado told reporters on Friday night.
Machado isn't done, and he's showing, despite the chance to throw the towel in on his season, he won't let his team do the same.