NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado suffered from a bout of meningitis this offseason, but the organization’s top young position player has recovered and is expected to be ready for spring training.
Machado was hospitalized for a day and a half about a month ago, but he has since recovered. He resumed full workouts two weeks ago, and the Orioles consider the illness a non-issue.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters about Machado's illness Tuesday afternoon during his media session at the winter meetings.
“Manny had a little scare there with, I believe it was meningitis, but he's over it,” Showalter said. “I talked to him a couple times, and he's doing well and doing a full workout. He's going to go in and get an opportunity to be our third baseman, potentially, but he's got to earn it.”
Meningitis, which is inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord, can be serious if not diagnosed and treated early. Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Machado kept the team apprised of the illness.
“He was in good hands and he dealt with it swiftly and directly,” Duquette said.
The 20-year-old Machado became an immediate impact player when he was called up from Double-A Bowie in early August, solidifying third base despite being groomed as a shortstop in the minors. He posted a .262/.294/.445 batting line with 17 extra-base hits (8 doubles, 2 triples, 7 homers) and 26 RBIs in 191 at-bats in his rookie season.
Machado declined comment on his illness through a team spokesman.
Nats could be trade partner
The Washington Nationals have been considered a possible trade partner for the Orioles, especially considering that first baseman-outfielder Michael Morse fits the Orioles’ need for a power bat.
And despite the Orioles sharing the regional market with the Nationals, Duquette said he wouldn’t hesitate to consummate a deal with the neighboring team. He wouldn’t see it the same as trading within the same division.
“I’d say that was another National League team,” Duquette said. “But I can also see the advantage of trading for a player that’s already established in your market ... that a lot of your fans are familiar with. So I would see that as an opportunity. … I would look at it more as a National League trade than a division trade.”
Morse - who would fulfill the Orioles’ needs at first base, left field and designated hitter nicely — remains a possible trade target for the Orioles. But the Orioles are looking to deal pitching, and the pitching-rich Nationals — who signed right-hander Dan Haren to a reported one-year, $13 million deal Tuesday — might be a tough match.
Players deciding on WBC
Orioles right-handed reliever Pedro Strop is expected to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Closer Jim Johnson was invited to pitch for the United States, but he will likely decline, Showalter said.
Johnson battled nagging back issues last spring training.
Orioles minor league catchers Allan de San Miguel (Australia) and Chris Robinson (Canada) are also slated to participate in the WBC.
Around the horn
The Orioles are working to establish a cooperative player-training agreement with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Japanese Pacific League. Duquette connected with the club through Rakuten international scout Derrick White, who played for the Montreal Expos in 1993, when Duquette was their general manager. ... Showalter said he has talked to Chris Davis and told him he will have the opportunity to play first base next season. Showalter added that he still has hope that the Orioles can resign Mark Reynolds to play first. The Orioles have not had contact with Reynolds’ representative since he was non-tendered. … Showalter’s search for a third-base coach is down to four or five candidates. He would like to make a decision by the end of the week, but not before he meets with Duquette in Baltimore about the matter after the winter meetings. … The Orioles had a prep meeting for Thursday’s Rule 5 draft and expect to be active. They have the 23rd pick. … The Orioles received two MLB.com GIBBY (Greatness in Baseball Yearly) awards. Showalter received Manager of the Year and the Orioles and Nationals tied for best storyline of the season.