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White Sox camp opens, Manny Machado buzz continues

Jon Jay talks to reporters at White Sox camp Wednesday. (Sun-Times)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — On the morning of the first day of White Sox spring training, Manny Machado was still a free agent. And there was no getting around the subject.

Who is not here, by the way. And may not be. But while there is still a chance the free agent will sign with the Sox, he will be one of the top stories of the day.

Yonder Alonso, Machado’s brother-in-law, and Jon Jay, his good friend, took turns standing by their lockers, side-by-side in the corner of the Sox clubhouse at Camelback Ranch, to talk with media a couple hours before pitchers and catchers officially took the field for their first workout of 2019. The new Sox expected questions about Machado and got them.

Alonso’s locker is in the corner of the wall generally reserved for veterans. Jay is next to Alonso, and while it’s not unusual for select veterans to get an extra cubicle, the one next to the 33-year-old Jay’s is open. Presumably in case Machado arrives.

“I demand an empty locker next to me,” Jay said, smiling. “Just kidding, it just worked out that way.

“I have no idea what Manny’s doing or what his family’s doing. Same thing I’ve said the whole time: It’s a private manner that he and his family will deal with. I’ve dealt with free agency, and even my best friends I don’t talk to about that stuff because it’s a private matter and you never know what’s going to happen. There’s a lot of emotions involved. You don’t want to report one thing, and then the next day it goes away or whatever.”

Jay said Machado would bring a lot on the field and in the clubhouse.

“Manny’s a heck of a player, great work ethic,” he said. “You get a player of the Manny’s caliber, they’re going to bring a lot to the table. It goes for a lot of players in this league, whether it’s Bryce Harper or Manny or whoever’s still out there of that caliber. You’re getting an absolute stud.”

It was clear that Alonso, who was more talkative about Machado after the Sox traded for the first baseman in December, didn’t want to say much Wednesday.

How close is Machado to signing?

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” said Alonso, who said he spoke to Machado Tuesday.

“We didn’t talk about baseball. One hundred percent I can tell you that, we didn’t talk about that.”

Catcher James McCann, signed as a free agent after playing for the Tigers the last six season, has been following the Machado rumor mill offseason.

“Before I was with the White Sox thinking: Now I have to call a game against Machado,” McCann said. “And hopefully he does come here. That would be a huge addition to this team and this lineup.

“He’s a pretty special hitter. He’s one of those guys you can’t get out the same way twice. You get him out one time and he’s looking for that the next time.”

Alonso and Jay are both in camp early. The first full squad workout is Monday. Pitchers and catchers have their first one today.