Manny Machado finally hit against live pitching, should sprint soon and may have sneaked in a couple dashes in Sarasota, Fla., when no one was looking Saturday.
The Orioles All-Star third baseman, who had offseason surgery on his left knee in October, has been steadily doing his rehabilitation in Florida without a set timetable for his return.
On Saturday, he took a step forward by hitting against live pitching, specifically left-hander Johan Santana, who his rehabbing from shoulder surgery.
Machado was scheduled to take at least two at-bats against Santana in a simulated game — basically batting practice that can include time in between at-bats and runners on base.
Instead, Machado batted six times Saturday, according to Showalter, and he’s now cleared to sprint on Monday. That is considered the last true hurdle in Machado’s recovery. Once he passes that one, it’ll be a matter of getting himself ready to play in games and build up stamina.
Although Machado has continued to follow the rehab program as requested, Showalter said he thinks his 21-year-old star may have jumped ahead a little bit Saturday.
“He’s scheduled to run full speed on Monday, to try it,” Showalter said. “They said they think he snuck a couple (sprints) in today. We’ll see.”
Santana, the former Cy Young Award winner who could be back in the majors this summer, threw 33 pitches in two innings Saturday.
Lefty Troy Patton (suspension) and Rule 5 infielder Michael Almanzar (knee) also participated in the simulated game, Showalter said.
In other Orioles news, Showalter said hitting coach Jim Presley (flu) will not be at the game today. He was sent home prior to Friday’s game with an illness.
“That was about as bad as a human being could look,” Showalter said.
Lefty Brian Matusz also was a victim Friday of a virus that has been circulating through the clubhouse. He went to the hospital on Friday night, but did not have to be admitted, Showalter said. He wasn’t at the park this afternoon, but it was possible he could arrive before first pitch.
Steve Clevenger is starting at catcher and batting fifth Saturday. Showalter said he wanted to give Matt Wieters a weekend day off and wanted the switch-hitter to start against lefty Mark Buehrle on Sunday. He also wanted Clevenger’s left-handed bat in between right-handers Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy – which will help with match-ups later in the game against the Blue Jays’ strong bullpen.
Double-A Bowie right-hander Zach Davies left Saturday’s start in the second inning after being hit in the right elbow by a line drive.