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Machado wants Tatis on Opening Day roster: 'He's a baller'

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Manny Machado made his San Diego Padres debut on Saturday, lining up at third base alongside highly regarded prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop.

Following the game, Machado publicly lobbied for the top prospect to make the team out of spring training - something that's not necessarily a guarantee due to baseball's ongoing service-time controversy.

"Hopefully, Tatis breaks camp with us and he's our shortstop," Machado told Dennis Lin of The Athletic. "It's going to be a hell of an infield that we're going to have.

"I think we're a different team if … he's in the infield and he's in that lineup. If he's in there, we're going to be a dangerous team, and I think we're all rooting for him to break camp with us.

"He's a baller," Machado added.

Tatis Jr., ranked as the No. 2 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, slashed .286/.355/.507 at Double-A in his age-19 season before putting up a .866 OPS in winter ball. Thanks to his base hit on Saturday, he's now hitting .357 (5-for-14) with two homers and five runs scored through six Cactus League contests.

But a hot spring won't guarantee him anything, as it's believed the Padres will have him open the season in the minors.

Tatis Jr. is far from the only top prospect that could have his service time manipulated this spring. While it's not illegal for the Padres or other teams to do this, the tactic has drawn the ire of the MLB Players Association, and union head Tony Clark said recently that service-time manipulation is "getting in the way of our game."

Padres manager Andy Green hinted Saturday that Tatis Jr. might simply need more development time regardless of his play or Machado's opinions.

"In (Tatis') case, he's a couple months above Double-A ball. He's had two incredibly slow Aprils that unbelievable seasons followed," Green said. "So, there's some context there that we're going to factor into the equation that other people probably aren't."

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