By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Manny Machado’s comments about his bat should be taken seriously, and it’s because of his own past.
Machado had reason to be heated after last night’s loss to the Red Sox. No ballplayer likes getting thrown at repeatedly. But at one point in his spectacularly profane rant directed at the Red Sox, he ventured into more disturbing territory that subverted the typical “heat of the moment” venom.
Machado said he had a bat. And he practically threatened to use it to hit something other than a baseball.
Here’s what Machado said, near the end of his diatribe that stemmed from Chris Sale’s pitch behind his legs in the top of the first inning on Tuesday night:
“I’ve got a [expletive] bat too. I could go up there and crush somebody if I wanted to. But you know what? I’ll get suspended for a year and the pitcher only gets suspended for two games. That’s not cool.”
So Machado would assault a pitcher with a bat if not for that pesky suspension? Tip of the cap to CSNNE’s Evan Drellich for pointing out the absurdity of that comment.
Machado is sick of being thrown at and believed before Tuesday night that the problems between the Red Sox and Orioles were over. Clearly, they are not, and it’s hard to blame the third baseman for holding a grudge over Matt Barnes buzzing a 90-plus fastball past his head. Nobody deserves that.
But the “bat” comments should have been, at best, off-putting to anyone with knowledge of Machado’s recent history.
In case you’re uninitiated, or just need a refresher, Machado has used his bat as something of a weapon before. He obviously has never literally swung it at an opposing pitcher, but he essentially did the closest thing to it during a 2014 series against the Oakland A’s.
The trouble started when then-A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson made a hard tag to the chest of Machado as he ran toward third base. Machado took exception to the tag, spiking his helmet in Donaldson’s direction and eventually clearing the benches in the confrontation.
The real trouble came two days later, when Machado (surprise!) got thrown at near his knees. Machado obviously took exception to that as well, and responded by letting go of his bat mid-swing and letting it fly directly toward Donaldson at third.
Machado was ejected from that game and suspended five games after that. Now-Red Sox reliever Fernando Abad was on the mound for that incident, so if Machado happens to step to the plate against Abad in the late innings against the Red Sox, there could be fireworks.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted on Wednesday that Sale is “likely” going to be suspended for throwing behind Machado, but that neither team was warned before Wednesday’s game. So the possibility of further fireworks is very much on the table.
The biggest concern with Machado’s “bat” comments is that they stem from his past history. They weren’t simply a product of a hothead popping off after a loss. He’s actually used his bat for something other than hitting a baseball before. If he gets plunked on Wednesday, even purely by accident, it shouldn’t shock anyone if Machado’s comments about his bat come to fruition in some form.
Machado also got suspended four games for charging the mound against the Kansas City Royals just last season, so it’s not like he’s past his hot-headed tendencies.
It’s not that Machado is necessarily going to pull a Juan Marichal. Just that if another Red Sox pitch even comes close to hitting him, this growing Red Sox-Orioles feud is going to explode. And then it could really get ugly.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.