The Padres have over the course of the past month held clubhouse meetings, talked in small groups and as individuals, switched up the music in the clubhouse, changed the T-shirts they wear, made a concerted effort to be less serious and all sorts of other things.
This is supposed to be a team with sufficient veteran guidance. Stammen holds sway over the pitchers, in particular, but is also a voice that is listened to in all corners due to his experience, evenness and character. Eric Hosmer is roundly credited with being an example of how a veteran comes to work every day no matter how things are going. He also has the cachet to ask coaches difficult questions.
The pair was asked Wednesday why, if they are the leaders they are held to be by so many, they have not been able to effect change.
"That's a good question," Hosmer said. "Baseball is one of those games you can prepare, you can do everything right, and it still doesn't go your way. That's what is going on with us. We feel we're coming here every day doing the (right) stuff, and it's just not happening."
Among the best examples of just that has been Machado.
It is his continued effort and occasional brilliance that perhaps gives credence to the reality that while this is a team perilously close to choking, it is not one that has stopped showing life.
A team that has quit generally doesn't make plays like the one Machado was in the middle of Tuesday.
In the first inning, Jurickson Profar ran 110 feet and slid on his knees to catch a fly ball at the warning track in the left field corner. He popped up and threw to the infield, where Machado cut off the ball and fired to first base to double up Tommy La Stella.
"He is a stud," Stammen said of Machado. "He has surpassed all expectations I had when we signed him. He has even grown into more of a leader. He has accepted that. … We look at Manny. Same way we look at (Fernando) Tatis. Their body language, their effort, their energy will create the same energy for the rest of the team. When they have same energy, we follow behind. Whether that equates to wins or losses, I don't know. But if you watch us before the games, we're having a blast. It has just not gone in our favor."©2021 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.