All eyes on Manny Machado as Padres continue without Fernando Tatis Jr. – The Athletic

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PEORIA, Ariz. — In February 2014, the Orioles welcomed Nelson Cruz into their clubhouse and set about reaping the benefits of his veteran presence. Cruz, who signed a one-year contract to be Baltimore’s designated hitter, led the majors with 40 homers that season. He also arrived as the undisputed leader, an example of how to thrive amid a 162 game schedule. The two youngest players on the team were often seen following Cruz around like puppies. One of them, Jonathan Schoop, became an All-Star second baseman three years later. The other has since established himself as a potential Hall of Famer.

“I learned from him in 14, how he did it, seeing him in an everyday situation,” Padres third baseman Manny Machado said. “These are the people you want next to you. These are the people you admire. These are the people you learn from.

So when Cruz agreed to a one-year, $15 million deal with the Nationals over the weekend, Machado watched with some disappointment. He had recruited the 41-year-old throughout the winter with a pitch that included visions of a powerful trio: Machado, Cruz and star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. together, in the same roster.

“Oh, man, I was shooting for (Cruz) here,” Machado said, standing in the Padres’ clubhouse at the Peoria Sports Complex. “I really wanted him here.

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