Prized free-agent shortstop Manny Machado wants MLB teams to know that he isn't a lazy player.
After failing to run out a groundball during the 2018 playoffs, Machado infamously said, "I'm not the type of player that's going to be 'Johnny Hustle.'"
In an interview with MLB.com's Mark Feinsand on Wednesday, Machado clarified the comment and assured prospective suitors that he plays the game hard:
"When I was asked that question, I was definitely on the defensive, and I was wrong to answer it the way that I did, because looking back, it doesn't come across how I meant it. For me, I was trying to talk about how I'm not the guy who is eye wash. There's a difference between fake hustle for show and being someone who tries hard to win. I've always been the guy who does whatever he can to win for his team.
"But I know how I said it and how that came across, and it's something I take responsibility for. I look forward to talking with each GM and owner that we meet with about that, or any other questions they have."
Machado is the crown jewel of free agency along with outfielder Bryce Harper, and he is coming off his best MLB season.
The 26-year-old shortstop (who is also a former Gold Glove third baseman) hit a career-best .297, tied his career high with 37 home runs and drove in a career-high 107 runs with the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018.
Despite his controversial "Johnny Hustle" comment, Machado figures to be a sought-after commodity this winter.
In terms of his decision-making process, Machado plans to weigh several factors:
"At the end of the day, I'll consider every situation carefully. There's a lot that goes into my decision. First and foremost, I will think about my family; where they will be comfortable and happy. I definitely want to be in a place where I can win long-term and be a part of World Series teams for many years to come. It's way too early to tell what else might play a part, but I'm excited and looking forward to it."
The four-time All-Star also made it clear that he intends to keep his recruiting process fairly private:
"It's been humbling to have multiple teams interested in me and have people talking about my free agency and what I should do. But I'm not the type of guy who is going to be out in front of a microphone for attention. That's just not my style. When the time comes, there will probably be a few of the teams that I will sit down with in person, but it's not something I plan on being very public about."
Young hitters of Machado's caliber don't come along often, and although his "Johnny Hustle" comment raised some red flags, he is likely still in line to land one of the richest free-agent contracts in MLB history.