BALTIMORE — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado began serving a five-game suspension Monday, nearly three weeks after Major League Baseball initially levied the sentence and five days after his appeal hearing.
Machado was suspended and fined on June 10 for intentionally throwing his bat on the field during an at-bat in Baltimore’s game against Oakland on June 8. Machado immediately appealed the suspension, and spoke for about an hour Wednesday in an appeal hearing in Baltimore with MLB official Joe Garagiola Jr.
The initial decision was upheld, meaning Machado will miss the Orioles’ four-game series against visiting Texas that began Monday, along with Friday night’s game in Boston.
“When we went in for an appeal I thought we had a good case, we had a great case,” Machado said Monday afternoon. “We said what we had to say. It didn’t come out how we wanted it to, but going into the appeal you know it’s going to be 50-50. It’s something you can’t control. I think we did the right thing, it’s a flip of the coin and we came up short. … So now we’re just going to have to deal with the consequences.”
So will the Orioles, who will be forced to play with a 24-man roster. Chris Davis, who usually plays first base, was at third base on Monday night.
“That’s the worst part about it. We’re down a man,” Machado said. “Obviously I don’t want to put my team in that situation, especially five tough games.”
Machado tossed his bat in the direction of third base during a plate appearance in which Oakland reliever Fernando Abad threw successive high-and-tight pitches. After the bat went soaring, both benches emptied. Machado and Abad were ejected.
Abad was fined but not suspended.
“I didn’t throw the bat at the pitcher. I didn’t harm anybody. And I’m going to get five games,” Machado said. “I didn’t charge the mound. I didn’t get in a fight. … This is an unfortunate event and I’m going to have to deal with it.”
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said: “Obviously, we were disappointed. We were hoping the suspension would be reduced, and we thought there were good reasons it should have been reduced.”
In the opener of that series against the Athletics on June 6, Machado yelled in the face of Oakland’s Josh Donaldson after the third baseman tagged him on the chest and caused him to lose his balance. Both benches emptied, but there were no ejections.
“It sounded like they were giving him four games for the bat and they were also giving him an additional game for the Friday night,” Duquette said. “I hadn’t heard of a case where they went back and retroactively apply a suspension. … The umpires didn’t recommend any discipline; Manny stayed in the game. So that was kind of puzzling.”
Machado, 21, said he learned a lesson from the experience.
“Don’t do it again,” he said. “You don’t want to be in this situation. No one wants to be in it. We’ll just go from here and try to put this behind me and just go on playing baseball.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter hoped the five-game sentence would be lowered after the appeal, but was ready to move on after the punishment remained in place.
“It was surprising,” Showalter said. “We’re not going to dwell on it. We understand the rules and why things are in place for different reasons. There are repercussions for actions in baseball as there are in life in general. Hopefully, there will be some positive that comes out of it where Manny is concerned in the future and for all players, managers and coaches.”
Machado missed the first month of the 2014 season recovering from offseason knee surgery and got off to a slow start at the plate. Just before Monday’s suspension, however, he had 10 hits over an eight-game span to raise his batting average 15 points to .239, and he also hit three home runs in his previous four starts.
That made the timing of the suspension even tougher to take.
“Definitely. It just (stinks),” he said. “I was starting to feel a little better at the plate and here they come with that bomb, five games. It was going to come. It was just about time to come. Unfortunately it came in the wrong spot, but hey, nothing you can do about it.”