After sprinting six times and taking four at-bats in a simulated game Monday, injured Orioles third baseman Manny Machado really has one more thing to accomplish before beginning to play in games at extended spring training -- and that could happen as early as Tuesday.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Machado ran 90-foot sprints six times Monday, but he has not yet cut on the bases while running. He is going to run 180-foot sprints Tuesday and could add cutting around the diamond then.
“The only thing he hasn’t done yet is cut the bases,” Showalter said. “That’s kind where he got a little setback the last time. So it’s another kind of hurdle to cross.”
Showalter said he spoke to Dave Walker, the organization’s minor league medical coordinator, on Monday morning and then later texted with Machado. According to the manager, Machado is doing well, but he obviously is eager to get back to the team.
“What’s the old expression? ‘I know God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle, but I wish he didn’t have so much confidence in me.’ I think that’s where he is with it, the way he put it,” Showalter said of his conversation with Machado. “He’s got a lot of good people around him that won’t let him get ahead of himself. And the things they are putting him through, it’s going to be pretty obvious that, if he can do them, he is ready to go. If he can’t, then we are in another boat.”
The Orioles and Machado are not putting a timetable on his return. However, it looks like he could begin playing extended spring training games shortly after running and cutting on the bases -- probably this week. After about two or three games there, he likely would go on a minor league rehab assignment, which can last as long as 20 days. It could be extended if there is a setback and he needs to take some time off.
Usually, Showalter likes his players to get 25 to 30 plate appearances or so in the spring before they are ready for regular-season games. But Machado is in a unique situation.
“Once he goes out [on a minor league assignment], you are starting the clock ticking, and you want to make sure you don’t get ahead of yourself,” Showalter said. “I know where our minimum is for spring training with guys, where our target is with at-bats and plate appearances. He has been doing this since end of January, so it is not your normal X number of plate appearances. I’ve got an idea, I think. It’ll be interesting to see where he is a week from today.”
The bottom line with Machado is that the Orioles still don’t have a definite time when he’ll return and haven’t announced which affiliates he’ll play for during his rehab assignment. But he is getting extremely close to playing in games, which means, if all goes well, he should be back with the team within the next month. And perhaps within the next two weeks.
Expecting the parity
Heading into Monday’s games, the five teams in the American League East were within two games of each other.
The Rays were in a three-way tie with the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays atop the division at 7-6, while the Orioles are in fourth with a 5-7 record. The Boston Red Sox are in last place at 5-8.
Showalter said before Monday’s game that he’s not surprised.
“It will separate itself at some point. When? I don’t know. But we’ll find out. Looking forward to finding out if we can be a part of it,” Showalter said. “I always look at it as the other four teams are a given.”
Around the horn
Right-hander Dylan Bundy (elbow) threw 35 pitches from a full mound Monday. He threw fastballs and changeups, and he is expected to add his breaking ball later this week. ... Showalter said he does not believe outfielder Nolan Reimold (neck) has started baseball activities.