Facing former teammates has been kind to the Los Angeles Dodgers thus far in the 2019 MLB season, as Manny Machado and Yasiel Puig each hit a home run in their first at-bat, and Matt Kemp connected on a key RBI single.
Machado’s tear was particularly impressive, as he tormented the Dodgers through the first two games of a recent series at Petco Park. Although the Padres suffered back-to-back losses in which they squandered a lead, Machado went 3-for-8 with three home runs, five RBI and one walk.
He went hitless in four at-bats in the series finale, which the Padres won on Hunter Renfroe’s walk-off grand slam to avoid being swept by the Dodgers. Now Machado sees familiar faces once again, but this time during a two-game series at Dodger Stadium.
The visit is Machado’s first since signing a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres. Although not from a malicious standpoint, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is hopeful fans will shower Machado with boos, per ESPN’S Alden Gonzalez:
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, when asked what type of reception Manny Machado might receive in his return to Dodger Stadium: “I hope they boo him.” He also said he loves Manny, that he believes Dodgers fans enjoyed having him, and that only good players are booed.
Kemp and Puig were both cheered in their return to Dodger Stadium. Of course, Kemp had already gone through such a scenario with the Padres and Atlanta Braves. Furthermore, Kemp and Puig endeared themselves to the Dodgers fanbase in a way Machado didn’t.
Although the end of Machado’s tenure with the team ended with some controversial moments over a perceived lack of hustle and his clipping Jesus Aguilar’s leg during the National League Championship Series, Roberts has maintained positive memories of their time together.
“I enjoyed having Manny. I really did,” he said. “To be able to write his name in the lineup every day is a good thing for a manager. I think the guys liked him, he helped us get to the World Series.
“I think he got a little bit of a bad rap; some of it was self-induced, but he’s a heck of a ballplayer. Very good competitor. He posts, plays every day. I’m a big fan.”
The Padres have cooled off of late, but Machado made it clear the young team considers themselves capable of knocking the Dodgers from their NL West perch.