BOSTON — When the Fenway Park crowd gets its first glance at the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night at the start of the 2018 World Series, there will be a host of unfamiliar faces. Third baseman Justin Turner, their leader, has played in two games here — which is two more than starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, or any of the Dodgers outfielders, who will have to acquaint themselves on the fly with the idiosyncratic outfield walls.
But one Dodgers player does not need an introduction.
Manny Machado, the shortstop-for-hire, has a history at Fenway that is lengthy and checkered, having spent much of the last seven seasons as a regular visitor here with the Baltimore Orioles.
If a national audience has just been introduced in the National League Championship Series to the full Machado — a package of churlishness, indolence and brilliance — the crowd here has seen his act before.
Machado gained ignominy in Boston last season when his late, spikes-up slide caught the leg of second baseman Dustin Pedroia, whose left knee has not been the same since. That led the Red Sox to twice throw behind Machado, who a month later took a leisurely 29.8-second stroll around the bases after hitting a home run.
The Red Sox have not forgotten those episodes now that Machado is with the Dodgers, but they made it clear that this was not the time or the place for ill will to surface.
“I have a lot of respect for him as a player; some of the other stuff I think is a bit much, but you know, a guy is who he is,” said reliever Matt Barnes, who threw a fastball behind the head of Machado the night after he took out Pedroia. “It definitely lingered a little bit for one reason or another, but if you do something foolish in a game that means this much and a series that means this much, and it costs you a game and it costs you a series, then you look like a fool.”
When asked what he thought of Machado’s antics against Milwaukee, Rick Porcello, potentially Boston’s starting pitcher for Game 4, said he preferred to watch his teammates.
“Our guys do a pretty damn good job of playing the game the right way,” he said. “I’d rather watch that.”
Pedroia, who said at the time of Machado’s slide last year that the play did not cause his injury, was asked Monday if it has contributed to his lengthy absence.
“It didn’t help — I’ll tell you that,” he said.
Machado has been in no mood to apologize — or really even discuss — the actions that placed him in the spotlight against the Brewers: the late slides at second base, the purposeful kicking of first baseman Jesus Aguilar, the failure to run out grounders and the grabbing of his crotch in response to boos after beating out a bunt. The episode with Aguilar brought Machado a $10,000 fine.
Asked if it bothered him that some — including the Brewers star Christian Yelich — have called him a dirty player, Machado, who will be a free agent this off-season, shrugged.
“I play hard for my ball club,” he said. “Whatever uniform I put on, I’m going to bleed and die. I hustle, I run down the line. I do whatever I can to win ballgames. Those are the only things we can control as baseball players.”
About the only bit of self-reflection Machado revealed on Monday was when he was asked what playing the right way meant to him.
“Everyone has their own opinion on everything,” he said. “However you play is however you play. Everyone has their own personalities in the game. Not everybody can be robots. I know M.L.B. is trying to make us all robots, but we’re just going to go out there and play our game.”
Any controversy Machado has endured does not seem to have affected his play. He has hit three homers and driven in nine runs in the postseason, and his bunt hit — on a 3-2 pitch that preceded a Cody Bellinger home run — was a pivotal play in the Game 7 win in Milwaukee on Saturday night.
He has also played quite well at Fenway Park, batting .278 with eight home runs and 32 R.B.I., his most in any ballpark as a visitor. He has also hit well against Chris Sale and David Price — the Red Sox starters in Games 1 and 2 — with a .300 career average and six home runs in 60 at-bats.
There will be other elements to watch on Monday.
The Dodgers will use Matt Kemp as their designated hitter; Austin Barnes is likely to remain behind the plate to better neutralize the Red Sox running game; and Sandy Leon, though he is a left-handed hitter, will be behind the plate once again with Sale on the mound.
And, of course, there is Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts, who is returning to the site of his most famous moment as a player. His steal of second base for the Red Sox in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2004 A.L.C.S. sparked a comeback from a three games-to-none deficit against the Yankees, which Boston parlayed into its first World Series victory in 86 years.
“Now he comes here and he makes a lot of money signing autographs,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said with a laugh about his former Dodgers teammate. “I know he puts ‘The greatest stolen base in the history of the game.’ He makes a lot of money in an hour.”
When Roberts, who remains a cherished figure in Boston, jogs out to line up along the third-base line before Game 1, he figures to be greeted with cheers.
But not so for the other Dodger who in these parts needs no introduction.