Baylor teammates meet again in the majors


Today, they are two of the more unexpected players in the major leagues, posing together for pictures on the field here. Back then, Max Muncy and Nate Orf were teammates at a college not renowned for churning out major leaguers, pushing each other so intensely that the coaches had to rush over and break up a confrontation between the two.

At Baylor, the team had been divided into four groups for fall conditioning drills. The group with Orf and Muncy was not faring well one morning, and Orf got in Muncy’s face about it.

“I didn’t like the way our team was working,” Orf said. “After we ran, I grabbed all the guys and said, we’re going to go work some more until we can start competing with the other little groups. Our little group was getting blasted and blasted.


“To be successful at a level like this, you’ve got to be hard-nosed. You’ve got to be stubborn. It was two guys that are stubborn. So, when I challenged him like that, he’s going to fire back.”

Said Muncy: “He was a peak performance, condition guy. He could run 10 miles and not be tired, probably. I was a little heavier set, so that wasn’t in my cards. We kind of got into it a little bit about that.

“It wasn’t hating on each other. It was trying to push each other to get better.”

Muncy and Orf played together at Baylor in 2012. Neither player was a top prospect – Muncy was drafted in the fifth round, Orf was not drafted – but they were together at Miller Park on Sunday.

Orf, 28, and Muncy, 27, each started this season in the minor leagues. Orf made his major league debut for the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this month. Muncy made the home run derby, and he was the Dodgers’ cleanup batter on Sunday.

“From Day One, playing with him at Baylor, he was instantly a guy who could control the bat, square it up, control the strike zone, everything,” Orf said. “He’s a pure hitter. He always was.

“To think that he evolved into a guy that could consistently drive the ball out of the park, it’s almost no surprise. He’s always been able to square the ball up really well.”


Muncy and Orf, asked to name the best players to come out of Baylor, offered the names of pitchers Jason Jennings and Kip Wells, catcher Kelly Shoppach and outfielder David Murphy.

“Soon, you’ll be able to throw Muncy up there with those guys,” Orf said. “It’s awesome.”

And, Orf said, whatever issues he had with Muncy all those years ago were resolved quickly, without an actual fight.

“No fists thrown,” Orf said with a smile. “I think we were too tired to actually get physical.”

Golden glove

The Dodgers expected a big bat from Manny Machado, whom they acquired last week from the Baltimore Orioles, and he reached base seven times in 15 plate appearances in his first weekend with the team.

They have been delighted with his glove, as he displayed excellent range and a tremendously strong arm despite metrics that rank him as one of baseball’s worst defensive shortstops.

Machado already has refined his fielding techniques with Dodgers infield coach Chris Woodward, according to manager Dave Roberts. The Dodgers’ extensive use of analytics to position their fielders could help too.

“I don’t know how aggressive Baltimore was [with analytics-based positioning],” Roberts said. “I think we are on the more aggressive side.”


Roberts also cited a factor that should provide Machado with an all-around boost.

“When you’re playing on a first-place team, the focus – not to say that he wasn’t focused -- but the energy is higher,” Roberts said.

Logan’s run

When the Dodgers acquired Machado, they could have moved Chris Taylor from shortstop to second base. Instead, Taylor has started all three games in the outfield, and beleaguered second baseman Logan Forsythe has started two of the three games.

The return of third baseman Justin Turner might have cost Forsythe playing time, but Turner might now head to the disabled list. Forsythe started Sunday and collected three hits, his first multihit game since June 19. He is batting .219 overall and .412 since July 11, and Roberts said the Dodgers still value his defense.

“I think it’s important for us to continue to give him opportunities,” Roberts said. “Sometimes, they can take an at-bat or two and something will click.

“I don’t like to give up on players, especially when they’re doing things the right way, because that sends a message to the clubhouse. I appreciate his work. He’s never once taken his offense out on the defensive side of things so, for me, that means a lot.”


Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin