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Machado concentrating on just third base

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- A year ago, Manny Machado wasn't officially in big league camp, his locker tucked away in the auxiliary clubhouse behind the Major Leaguers.

Fresh off an impressive rookie campaign, the 20-year-old is penciled in as the Orioles' starting third baseman, a position he's still learning but one he will get every opportunity to succeed at.

"It's still tough," said Machado, who made the move from shortstop to third base when he was promoted on Aug 9. "I'm not really used to it, comfortable with it, but it definitely does help that I played it before going into [this season]. I still feel like a shortstop, but it's kind of a good thing sometimes instead of just thinking like a third baseman."

Machado has been doing infield work with third-base coach Bobby Dickerson, and the emphasis is on continuing to shore up Machado's defense at the hot corner, where he posted a .967 fielding percentage in 51 games, committing five errors in 151 chances.

With no clear-cut backup to shortstop J.J. Hardy, could Machado be an option?

"No," manager Buck Showalter said of the prospect of giving Machado any time at shortstop this spring. "It doesn't need to be answered, but the question is whether -- God forbid -- [if] we have a long-term injury to J.J., where do we go? That's why we want to find out our options are at shortstop behind J.J."

Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla are two options in camp to back up Hardy, and the plan is for Machado to stay put at third base and continue to build on a 2012 campaign in which the former first-round pick posted a .262/.294/.445 line with seven homers and 26 RBIs.

"I think last year I locked in watching a lot of video, watching how pitchers pitch, the sequence," Machado, the third overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft said of his first taste of big league pitching. "So this year I am really focusing on watching more video and watching the film of the pitchers we are going to be facing."

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