BALTIMORE — Upon learning of his promotion to the big leagues, 20-year-old Manny Machado excitedly called his mother in Florida to share the exciting news.
She didn't believe him.
And who could blame her? The Baltimore Orioles are fighting for a postseason berth and Machado, the third overall pick in 2010, was playing with Double-A Bowie in his third season of professional baseball.
No matter. The Orioles purchased Machado's contract, paid his way to Baltimore and put him in the starting lineup Thursday night against the Kansas City Royals.
"Just thought he gave us a chance to win more baseball games," manager Buck Showalter said, matter-of-factly.
He was onto something. Machado slugged two homers in his second major league game, a 7-1 win on Friday.
Machado was batting .266 with 11 homers, 26 doubles, five triples, 48 walks and 13 stolen bases for Bowie. He was torrid at the plate in the days leading up to his promotion, which had something to do with his surprise journey to Baltimore.
"He's been doing well down there since the second half started, in a good spot production-wise and swinging the bat," Showalter said. "He's done a lot of work at third down there."
Machado is a shortstop by trade, but he started at third base against the Royals and batted ninth. He didn't seem to mind the position change or the low spot in the lineup, because, after all, he made it to the majors before reaching the legal drinking age in Maryland.
"I'm super excited. I'm beyond excited," he said.
Bowie manager Gary Kendall told Machado the news late Wednesday night after the Baysox got off the bus and headed to the team hotel after facing Altoona on the road.
"Very surprised. It wasn't even crossing my mind that I was getting called up," said Machado, who became the youngest Oriole to ever hit two home runs in a game. "I was just in shock."
After taking a moment to gather his thoughts, Machado called his mom, Rosa Nunez.
"I said, ‘You know, you have to look for a flight to come up to Baltimore.' She goes ‘Why?' ‘Well, I'm going up to Baltimore. I'm going to play tomorrow, third base.' She thought I was lying," Machado said. "She was like, ‘Are you serious or are you joking?' ‘No I'm serious. I got called up.' We just shared that moment together and it was a good feeling."
Machado's mother, aunt, sister, nephew, girlfriend and uncle were expected to be at Camden Yards for his debut.
There appears to be a trend lately to bring up young players with unlimited potential, despite the risk of failure. Machado follows Mike Trout of the Angels and Bryce Harper of the Nationals as prospects getting the chance to succeed in the majors.
"I don't think you group them all. Everybody's different," Showalter said. "This has nothing to do with how Trout is doing or how Harper is doing. Our needs, and where Manny was, we felt like he could help us. We've got 50ish games left and we think he's our best option."
Baltimore began the day tied atop the wild-card race with Detroit and Oakland. Bringing up Machado wasn't an experience; it was a necessity.
"If it helps this team win, I'm all for it," said Robert Andino, who could lose playing time if Machado fares well. "I've only seen him a few times in spring training, but yes, he's got talent. He's 20 and in the big leagues."
Showalter believes the chance of Machado playing well outweighs the risk of him ruining his confidence.
"It's like Billy Martin told me a long time ago," Showalter said. "Try as you may, you can't screw up the good ones."