Baltimore Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado reportedly sustained a right knee sprain while making his second plate appearance against the New York Yankees Monday night in Baltimore. At this time the severity of the sprain is not known but Machado was walking without the aid of crutches after the game, both in the clubhouse and on the field for the handshake line, after the Orioles’ 11-3 drubbing of the Yankees according to Roch Kubatko of MASN. Machado will be re-evaluated tomorrow.
Last September, it was Machado’s left knee that had Oriole fans holding their breath as the phenom third baseman was led off the field in Tampa on a stretcher after sustaining a torn medial patello femoral ligament. Machado would miss the rest of the season and the first month of this season due to the injury.
As Oriole fans wait to know the extent of Machado’s injury this time around, they’re surely taking solace in the little things like Machado’s ability to put a little bit of weight on the knee as he was helped off the field as well as the initial diagnosis.
The Orioles could be considered comparatively lucky in that they’ve only had to deal with Machado’s lost April and Matt Wieters‘ season ending elbow injury. A healthy Machado is vital to their post season prospects.
A slow start that saw Machado hitting only .218/.275/.320 as of June 11th has become a distant memory. The 22-year old has been hitting .326/.363/.517 since then to bring his season total to .273/.323/.428 with 12 home runs (2 shy of his total from last season). Plus he’s been bringing his usual brand of stellar defense.
If Machado misses a significant amount of time with the right knee injury and, penant race or not, the Orioles will surely be cautious with their young star. The team will likely lean on utility man Ryan Flaherty, who brings a solid glove and occasional pop to the lineup.
Right now however Flaherty is being used to spell JJ Hardy, who is day-to-day with a sprained thumb, so the Orioles will likely bring up Steve Lombardozzi or Jemile Weeks if a roster move is required due to Machado’s injury.
The Orioles could also occasionally use first baseman Chris Davis at third (as they did tonight when Machado went down) if they want to play to their offensive strengths, allowing Steve Pearce to start at first. With the Orioles’ focus on defense and Davis’ “break glass in case of emergency” type glove at third this doesn’t seem likely to be an everyday solution.
As for external options, longtime Orioles’ second baseman Brian Roberts didn’t appear to be an option before Machado’s injury.
Because so many have asked, here’s the answer. #Orioles appear to have no interest in bringing back 2B Brian Roberts, who is a free agent
— Dan Connolly (@danconnollysun) August 11, 2014
With his own defensive shortcomings plus the defensive steadiness and pop of rookie Jonathan Schoop at the keystone corner, it just doesn’t seem likely that the Orioles would want to upend that. This is especially clear when you consider Roberts’ lackluster offensive production prior to being released by the Yankees.
As is always the case Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette will surely keep an eye out for minor enhancements before the season ends. Unless Machado’s injury sacks him for the season, which seems unlikely since he is up and around, it’s unlikely that the Orioles will be compelled to make a move.