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Get to know your Orioles: Manny Machado

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Admit it! You freaked out, with all of Birdland, when Machado was gripping his knee at home plate last night. He is a special player, but it's not just his talents on the baseball field that make him great.

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, it seems fair to say that, every Oriole fan's heart skipped a beat. Following a seemingly innocuous ground ball to shortstop, Manny Machado was curled up in the batter's box, clutching his right knee. What's worse, this was not the same knee injured less than a year ago in Tampa Bay. This time, fans of the orange and black don't have to guess how life would be without the 22 year old manning the hot corner. They already know the grim reality.

Name: Manuel Arturo Machado Number: 13
Born: July 6, 1992 (22 years old) in Hialeah, FL
Height: 6'2" Weight: 180 lbs
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Drafted: 1st round (3rd overall) in 2010 by the Baltimore Orioles
School: Briot Miami Private School (Miami, FL)
Contract: $519,000 salary in 2014 (Arbitration eligible, Free Agent: 2019)
Walk-up song: "Otis" by Jay Z

Personal

How much can be said about Machado's professional baseball career? He is the most exciting and accomplished young man to don an Oriole uniform since Cal Ripken Jr. in the early 80s. He is a first round draft choice that was pegged to make All-Star games, lead a team to the playoffs and win awards. He has done all of those things in under five years of pro ball. He gives a lot of the credit to his upbringing.

Machado was raised by his mother, grandmother, aunt and uncle, Gio Brito, in the inner city of Miami. He also has an older sister, Yasmine, who is about 10 years his senior. His mother, Rosa, worked two jobs and usually only spent time with Manny on Saturdays, but eventually that would be the day of the week that Manny's baseball games were. So, it was nice to have the other helping hands around.

Uncle Gio was Manny's baseball coach from an early age. Every day, he would wait for Uncle Gio to get off work. When he did, the two would play catch. They did so nearly every day until Manny was old enough to be in a league.

Back in April of 2013, Brito shared a story with MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli that when Manny was 9 years old he told Uncle Gio that he needed to be taken out of the game. He went and threw up to the side of the field. With no towels present, Brito told him to take his socks off to clean everything up. Then, Manny asked to be put back in the game, and he was. He played the remainder of the day with an upset stomach and no socks.

Perhaps Manny's biggest baseball influence was his late grandfather, Francisco Nunez.. He taught Manny to stay humble and to always work on the basics of the game. Nunez stressed the art of bunting and staying down to earth. Unfortunately, Nunez passed away on Christmas Eve, 2009 before he was able to see Manny be drafted or play in a professional game. To this day, Manny traces the letters "FN" in the dirt before every game.

Growing up in Miami, Manny has become friends with several players who are from the same area. He has a well publicized relationship with Alex Rodriguez. As many kids born in the late 80s and early 90s did, Machado idolized A-Rod. When he was drafted, he looked to the infamous Yankee third baseman for guidance in the transition from amateur to professional athlete. However, his best baseball buddy is San Diego Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso.

The two met when Manny was an upperclassman in high school in 2009. He was being recruited by many schools; chief among them was the University of Miami (Fla.).  He received a call from one of the Hurricanes stars, Alonso. It wasn't just a recruitment. Alonso offered Machado a friendship, asking if he needed anyone to workout or train with. After Manny was drafted, the two became tight.

Manny would come over Yonder's house nearly every day. The two would talk baseball but also play video games and talk the way young guys do. Making the duo into a trio was Yonder's younger sister, Yainee. In the winter of 2011, all three of them went to Spain on a vacation. When they returned, Manny revealed to Yonder that he viewed Yainee as more than a friend and asked if it would be alright if he asked her out.

In a 2013 interview with USA Today and Bob Nightengale, Yonder said that he told Manny the following:

"As long as you respect her and be there for her, and whatever happens, just know if something happens between you guys we're still friends. We were friends before, and we'll be friends afterward,"

But that "something" never happened. Instead, the two fell in love and actually bought a dog together (a big sign that it's meant to be). It is an Alaskan Klee Kai named "Kobe", much to the shagrin of Manny, a Miami Heat fan. Yainee and the entire Alonso crew are Los Angeles Lakers supporters.

Yainee is a former member of the Miami Marlins Mermaids cheer-leading squad and has a pre-med degree from the University of Miami. She plans to become a physician's assistant.

The future Mr. and Mrs. Machado got engaged on February 6 of last year but, according to that same USA Today story, it was no easy task for the Orioles third baseman. They drove to South Beach to spend a night together. While there, the kitchen sink in their room broke, something caused their dinner to be delayed a few hours and the spot where Machado planned to pop the question was occupied by a snoozing homeless man.

On top of that, Manny struggled to pry the ring out of his pocket and when he did, Yainee didn't hear him ask the question.

"He's on his knees and talking, saying sweet things," she told USA Today. "I didn't hear him propose."

Eventually she got the gist of what was going on and responded in the affirmative. The two have set their date as December 6 in Paris.

Much of this article is meant to be on a lighter note and to take a look at things off the field. But the fact remains that events on the field can effect a person's life beyond baseball. So this is to hoping that Manny recovers swiftly and safely for his own good. Get well soon, 13.

Quick Hits

  • Sport other than baseball: basketball
  • How he chose his number: He wore number 3 as a kid for Alex Rodriguez but also was given number 10 many times as a child. 10+3=13
  • Favorite food: New York style pizza, (2nd: Philly cheesesteak)
  • Introvert or extrovert: Self-proclaimed shy guy
  • Tattoos: two stars on his hands, a portrait of his grandfather and a lion.
  • Favorite animal: lions (Duh!)
  • What he bought with his signing bonus ($5.25 million): bought himself a black Porsche and his mom a house.
  • First friend in the bigs: Robert Andino. they would get to the ballpark together everyday in 2012.
  • Favorite Video Game(s): NBA2K, FIFA

Check out these links for all things Manny

Baseball Reference, USA Today, Baltimore Style, Orioles.com, GQ, Baltimore Sun, Baseball America