Machado deems return to action 'awesome'

Machado deems return to action 'awesome'

BALTIMORE -- Fans at Camden Yards had waited a long time to cheer for Manny Machado. Therefore they didn't even bother to wait for the 21-year-old third baseman to officially make his 2014 debut before rooting for their guy, one of baseball's rising stars.

"It was awesome. It was awesome," Machado said following his first game since sustaining a season-ending knee injury last September and undergoing surgery in October.

The roars started earlier in the day, when Machado warmed up before Game 1 of the doubleheader against the Pirates. They began again when he was announced during pregame introductions. They grew louder as fans stood when Machado batted for the first time in the opening frame of a game Baltimore won, 6-5, on Matt Wieters' walk-off home run in the 10th.

"I had to take all of it in," said Machado, who went hitless in five at-bats. "For the fans to go out there and cheer for me once I went out there and ran a couple of sprints, and then I got a standing [ovation] when I came up to the plate. I want to give thanks to all the fans for coming out and supporting us. Hopefully, it's going to be a big a year for us."

If his first day back in the lineup is any indicator, it will be. The Orioles twice trailed, 4-0 and 5-4, but twice tied the score, the second time on Nick Markakis' home run in the seventh. The bullpen pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, and Wieters ended the contest just before 1 a.m. ET on Friday.

"First day back, walk-off win," Machado said. "Great game, great pitching staff, great two games. Couldn't be happier."

The same goes for his manager, who no longer has to use a rotation at third base.

"What we missed as much as anything is the stability he gave us in the infield," Buck Showalter said of Machado, who cleanly handled his defensive opportunities. "I kept asking him after about the sixth inning how he felt, and he finally gave me that look like, 'Don't ask me anymore.'"

Machado showed no hesitancy in the field. He did admit to thinking about becoming the hero leading off the top of the ninth, though he ultimately popped up in the infield after recording nothing but groundouts in his previous plate appearances.

"It crosses your mind a little bit, I'm not going to lie," he said. "But you have to stay with the moment, stay with the pitch. Just take it one pitch at a time.

"The pitcher came up with a win there, but I'll bounce back from it."

Benjamin Standig is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.