There is no love lost between Manny Machado and the Milwaukee Brewers. On the night Machado nearly tripped up their first baseman, and the night after Machado twice grabbed the Brewers shortstop in trying to break up a double play, the Brewers players wasted no words in expressing their anger at the Dodgers shortstop.
Craig Counsell, the Brewers’ manager, selected his words carefully. He took dead aim in telling a packed news conference whether he thought Machado had gone beyond the bounds of playing hard.
“I don’t think he’s playing all that hard,” Counsell said dryly.
In one comment, Counsell used the subtext of Machado’s repeated and admitted lack of hustle to criticize him for an incident that prompted the benches to clear in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. Machado scored the winning run in the 13th inning of the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory, but that was not the play that had players talking afterward.
Joe Torre, chief baseball officer for Major League Baseball, attended Tuesday’s game and told The Times he expected to review the play. He declined further comment. Torre is responsible for determining player discipline, which can include fines and/or suspensions.
The play went like this: In the 10th inning, Machado hit a routine ground ball to shortstop. As he arrived at first base, he hit the bag with his right foot, then appeared to swing his left leg and kick it against the back foot of Brewers first baseman Jesus Aguilar.
Aguilar hobbled away from the base and exchanged words with Machado. Benches cleared, but no punches were thrown, and order was quickly restored.
On Monday, umpires had ruled that Machado had violated the so-called Chase Utley rule. The rule is intended to protect infielders turning a double play from injury by forbidding a runner from going out of the normal slide path to try to break up the play.
On Tuesday, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich minced no words in ripping Machado.
“He is a player that has a history with those types of incidents,” Yelich told a crowd of reporters. “One time is an accident. It’s repeated over and over again. It’s a dirty play.
“It’s a dirty play by a dirty player.”
Brewers infielder Travis Shaw also called it “a dirty play.”
Said Machado: “I try to go out there and win for my team. If that’s their comments, that’s their comments. I can’t do nothing about that.”
Aguilar said Machado had apologized to him, and the two players briefly hugged when Machado reached first base in the final inning. Machado would not discuss the conversation between the players.
“What stays on the field, stays on the field, between the lines,” Machado said.
What happened on the play?
“I was trying to get over him and hit his foot,” Machado said.
“If that’s dirty, that’s dirty. I don’t know. Call it what you want.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts deflected the question of whether he understood why the Brewers were upset.
“I think Aggie had his foot on first base and didn’t give Manny a whole lot of room on the bag,” Roberts said. “I didn’t see the replay. So he stepped on his foot and I think that was what Manny was talking about. But we all worked it out.”
On the Dodgers’ SportsNet LA postgame show, former Dodgers ace Orel Hershiser ripped Machado for the play.
“It’s embarrassing,” Hershiser said. “It’s embarrassing to himself. It’s embarrassing to the game.”
He added: “I love him as a player. I wish he would hustle on the bases more. I wish he wouldn’t kick first basemen.”
Machado could command a contract of $300 million or more in free agency, as a 26-year-old power hitter who can play shortstop and third base, but the October spotlight is doing him no favors.
The play came on the day that the Athletic posted an interview in which the four-time All-Star acknowledged he looks bad for not running out ground balls but said he did not expect to change his style.