ESPN: "I'm a huge Kobe fan"

By: coachemup!


10:09 PM PT

Bradford Doolittle

ESPN Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- If the All-Star break is a transformative experience for some, perhaps that has never been so literally the case than it is for Manny Machado, who entered the break as an Oriole and exited it a Dodger.

Machado joined his new club Friday in Milwaukee, where the Los Angeles Dodgers opened a three-game weekend series against the Brewers with a 6-4 victory. He singled in his first at-bat and went 2-for-3 with two walks a couple of hours after addressing the media for the first time in his new blue L.A. threads.

"I'm relieved," Machado said. "Relieved it finally got done. It's exciting to be here. It's a great group. Great organization, with a lot of baseball history. I'll just come here and be myself and try to fit into the club around here."

After the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Machado fit in just fine. Maybe better than fine.

"I thought he fit in great," Roberts said. "And even before the game, talking in the food room and laughing with guys, talking to [Clayton Kershaw] and [Chase Utley], on the bench he's talking to the hitting coach and talking to guys, I think he's pretty comfortable. Today, for a guy who has known no other organization than the Baltimore Orioles, I think he's as comfortable as we would hope."

The Dodgers acquired Machado from Baltimore on Wednesday in exchange for five prospects, one day after he went 0-for-2 as the American League's starting shortstop in the All-Star Game -- wearing an Orioles uniform. Now, it's a new league, a new team, a new uniform and a new beginning.

To underscore the fresh start, Machado selected uniform No. 8 rather than negotiating for the No. 13 he wore in Baltimore that is worn by Dodgers slugger Max Muncy. Machado chose the new number for a very L.A. reason that won't do anything to harm his relationship to his new fans.

"No. 8 was I wanted to change it up," Machado said. "New beginning, new journey, new team. I wanted to grow that route. I was a huge Kobe [Bryant] fan growing up. My dog's name is Kobe."

After Machado poked a single to right in his first Dodger at-bat, the ball was returned to the L.A. dugout. Turns out, it was the team's doing -- Machado didn't know the ball had been saved until after the game. That was part and parcel for a player who, despite all the hoopla surrounding his arrival, approached Friday simply as a chance to play baseball. Machado said he wasn't nervous because the field is his "happy space." Plus, he looked nifty in his new threads, though, after seven years in one team's uniform, there was a moment when it all felt a little weird. In a good way.


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