With the horrific images of the knee injury that cut his 2013 season short still fresh in our minds, Manny Machado has been doing everything he can to work his way back onto the field for the Baltimore Orioles. By all accounts his recovery has been progressing on schedule, but there remains a question of whether or not he will be deemed ready for a spot on the team’s Opening Day roster.
Machado arrived at camp on Sunday for the Orioles, according to MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli. He took batting practice from the cage and took part in fielding drills at third base. He’s not expected to be cleared to run until the beginning of March and could start seeing time in games shortly thereafter. Machado and the Orioles are sticking to their recovery plans, but it sounds as though the 21 is anxious to not have to hold back:
I think it’s the hardest part. The way I have to approach things now is kind of mentally do the things right. I’m training my body now, training my mind to do certain things while I run and cut. At the same time, I got to think “I can’t overdo it”. I don’t want to overdo it at this point so close and how far I’ve come. I don’t want to go out there and run the bases or slide or dive for a ball and try to mess this up. It’s hard. It’s hard to hold myself back.
Ghiroli figures that Machado will need to be cleared for game action no later than mid-March in order to remain a realistic possibility for Opening Day, but the idea doesn’t sound completely out of the question.
Machado had been having a strong 2013 season before his knee buckled hitting first base against the Tampa Bay Rays in late September. He’d hit .283/.314/.432 in 710 PA over his first full season in the Major Leagues. Until the injury he had played in every game since making his debut in August 2012.
Baltimore has been discussed at length this offseason, predominantly in the news due to their near deals with Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin that were both reversed due to problems with their physicals. While the team’s medical staff may appear to be highly particular when it comes to how they evaluate potential additions, perhaps that attention to detail will prove useful given the progress that their own injured players – Machado and Dylan Bundy, in particular – have been making under the organization’s watch.