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Some thoughts on Orioles third baseman Manny Machado's knee injury

There seemed to be a sense of relief among Orioles fans that third baseman Manny Machado’s right knee injury isn’t as bad as it looked. X-rays were negative, and Machado said he was a “little sore” after the game.

Well, the good news is that Machado walked over to reporters after the game while a pair of crutches went untouched by his locker. The sobering news, though, is that clean X-rays don’t mean much in these cases.

It’s the Tuesday morning MRI that will reveal whether Machado and the Orioles dodged a bullet or whether the club will have to immediately fill Machado’s defensive and offensive presence.

My gut feeling when it first happened, and when Machado was on the ground in obvious pain, was that he tore something in the knee. Machado said his first reaction was “bad thoughts.”

But after seeing him following the game, I think my new gut feeling is that a major injury may have been avoided. Still, he could end up on the 15-day disabled list -- that’s usually how these things go -- I guess we’ll know definitively soon enough.

The situation here is a little complicated because shortstop J.J. Hardy has missed the past two games with a sprained left thumb. You have to figure the Orioles have an infielder en route from Triple-A Norfolk just in case Hardy and Machado are unavailable.

Two potential replacements are Jimmy Paredes and Steve Lombardozzi, who are both on the 40-man roster and can both play second and third bases (Ryan Flaherty likely would play shortstop in Hardy’s absence).

The Orioles also did an interesting thing, pushing back Miguel Gonzalez’s start at Norfolk to Wednesday. The thinking there is, if Hardy is able to play Tuesday and Machado has to go on the DL, the Orioles could bring back Gonzalez, who was sent out Saturday.

Normally, Gonzalez wouldn’t be eligible to return to the Orioles until 10 days after being sent out, but he can come back sooner if he replaces an injured player.

That would then mean the Orioles would be down a position player, but with the flexibility of Steve Pearce, Flaherty and Paredes or Lombardozzi, they could probably make it work.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

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