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Scar tissue discomfort could delay Machado's return to the Orioles

SARASOTA, FLA. -- Third baseman Manny Machado, who is rehabbing from left knee surgery in October, has not run in five days due to discomfort caused by the breaking up of scar tissue – a setback that makes an already optimistic return by Opening Day seem even more tenuous.

“Certainly, it looks [like Opening Day is out]. I’m not there yet,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m not going to throw that wet blanket over that yet. I know Manny’s not.”

Showalter said although it may seem ominous, the delay in running is a precautionary measure and something that can occur with these type of surgeries. He added that Machado seemed to be in good spirits on Saturday morning and that he could be "back in the flow" of his rehab program in the next few days.

“The way I understand it, it’s scar tissue that flared up and got a little sore and we decided not to push it, which is what we talked about all along,” Showalter said. “We are not going to push it to the point where it ends up being something. We want to resolve this. The trainers have talked to the doctors, you expect that [scar tissue release]. The surgery side, the knee and everything, feels great. That’s been the most encouraging part.”

Machado had surgery on Oct. 14 and at the time the recovery period was considered between four and six months. The end of that spectrum takes him into mid-April. Both Machado and the Orioles have said throughout the process that they won’t rush him back even if it means missing the first few weeks of the season, which begins for the Orioles on March 31 at Camden Yards vs. the Boston Red Sox.

Although the Orioles still aren’t ruling out Opening Day, Machado is hoping to be re-evaluated by his surgeon, Neal ElAttrache, next week. Because he isn’t running currently and wouldn’t be able to be fully evaluated, that appointment won’t happen at least until after Tuesday, when ElAttrache returns to Los Angeles. It’s likely it will be later than that. A new appointment has not been scheduled, the club said.

Consequently, that pushes back his timeline to be cleared for playing in games, which seemingly would make it difficult for Machado to regain his timing at the plate by the end of the month.

Showalter, however, said if Machado was physically ready, the club could tweak things during minor league camp to allow the 21-year-old third baseman to get a dozen or more at-bats against live pitching in those exhibitions.

Outfielder Nolan Reimold, for instance, picked up 12 at-bats during Double-A and Triple-A games at Twin Lakes Park on Thursday.

“I wouldn't say very, very difficult,” for Machado to get enough at-bats to be ready by Opening Day, Showalter said. “Nolan Reimold is going to have 22 at-bats in two days. In four days, we can get Manny more plate appearances than guys over here are going to break camp with. That’s something [that could happen] if you so deemed it.”

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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