One of the biggest questions for the Baltimore Orioles in spring training has been the status of third baseman Manny Machado. Will he be ready for Opening Day? When will we actually see him in a game? I’ve maintained since January that my personal opinion was that Machado would start getting into games towards the end of spring training, would probably be sent to extended spring training once the team broke camp, go out on a rehab assignment, and eventually rejoin the O’s towards the end of April to guard the hot corner. The Orioles haven’t yet publically said that Machado wasn’t going to be ready on Opening Day, however at this point that appears to be a bit of a stretch.
Machado was examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles this week, and he returned to
Sarasota yesterday after the good doctor cleared him to resume workouts. Machado no longer has any medical restrictions. However Buck Showalter hasn’t said when we’ll actually see Machado in a game. Anyone that’s seen how Showalter operates since he’s been with the Birds knows that there’s usually more than meets the eye going on in his brain. My point is that I suspect that Showalter and Dan Duquette have a plan in place in terms of when Machado will start playing, how much work he’ll get, etc.
All Orioles fans want to see Machado at Camden Yards on Opening Day. However I would submit that Machado playing on Opening Day might not be in the best interests of the organization. Granted every situation is different, however I recall that in 2010 Brian Roberts was bothered by back spasms for most of camp and didn’t start playing in games until the final week or so of spring training; we all know how that turned out. Roberts strained his back in the Orioles’ home opener, and quite frankly hasn’t been the same since.
Obviously Roberts was an aging veteran at the time, and Machado is a budding star. He’s also more important to the organization than Roberts was at the time of his injury. However my point is that often rushing someone back after being hurt causes more harm. So as I said, I suspect we’ll see Machado stay in Sarasota after the Orioles pack up and leave at the end of next week, and play in a few extended spring games. He’ll probably then head up perhaps to double-A Bowie (only for proximity reasons) for rehab starts before joining the Orioles in late April.
Miguel Gonzalez became the first Oriole starter to pitch six innings in a spring training game yesterday as the Birds defeated Atlanta 8-0. Gonzalez was moved up a day in the “rotation” (so-to-speak) due to Chris Tillman coming down with a 24-hour flu bug that’s made it’s way through the clubhouse. Unfortunately this is something that we often see in baseball given the amount of time the players spend together. Ubaldo Jimenez will get the ball this afternoon when the O’s head to Port Charlotte, FL to take on the Tampa Rays.