SARASOTA, Fla. — Since Manny Machado's freak knee injury occurred last September under one of the most routine circumstances — his left knee buckled when his foot landed awkwardly as he rounded first base —the 21-year-old couldn't help but think about his return to running down the first-base line throughout his rehab.
"It's been crossing my mind running the bases just constantly," Machado said. "Obviously, that's the way the injury happened, so that is in my head. That's the only thing I remember from the injury. I don't remember the rehab. I really don't care about that. That's the only thing that's on my mind, how I injured that knee. So I want to get past that as fast as possible because that's the only thing that's going to keep me from being out there and playing games."
Machado began running through first base and landing on the bag last week. Base running is one of the final drills Machado has to perform before he can be fully cleared and return to games.
Right now, Machado still expects to see Dr. Neal ElAttrache on March 18 to get clearance to return to full competition. There was some thought to seeing ElAttrache on Tuesday, his next available day, but Machado said he won't be ready by then and doesn't want to rush it.
"I've got the strength there and I've done what I need to do to fix the way I run and fix the proper way to do things," Machado said. "I've gotten stronger in the places that need to be stronger for the injury not to happen again. I feel pretty good touching the bases. Definitely it wasn't running at 100 percent. That's just a process. "
Machado said he's running the bases at around 70 to 80 percent effort.
"I know I'll get up there," he said. "I don't think I'll be running the bases 100 percent for another week or so. Right now, I'm basically just cruising down the line. I feel fine running, and I feel fine doing everything else. I think right now I really don't want to run the bases 100 percent. I want to be smart about it, not go out there full go running down the bases. I ran to get a feel for stepping on the base again and again, feeling for how that is."
Offense continues to lead
The Orioles' power-packed lineup has gotten a lot of attention over the past couple seasons, and it looks like the hitters aren't ready to surrender the stage to the upgraded pitching staff.
In two games against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday and Sunday's 9-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium, the Orioles combined for 29 runs and 42 hits to sweep the weekend.
The Orioles also routed the Philadelphia Phillies, 15-4, on Friday after beating the Minnesota Twins, 11-5, on Wednesday.
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis remained hot in the win over the Pirates. He was 3-for-3 with an opposite-field home run that cleared everything in left-center field. Shortstop J.J. Hardy also homered, while right fielder Nick Markakis and second baseman Jonathan Schoop stayed on a Grapefruit League roll with two hits apiece.
Davis, Markakis and Schoop combined to go 7-for-9 over the first five innings Sunday and are batting a combined .565 in exhibition play.
"I have not read a stat sheet this spring and I won't," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I trust the people who are responsible for the pitching and the hitting and the defense, and I trust my eyes, and not some spring training stat. I think there's more in the tank. I'm OK with them playing real well."
Orioles make three cuts
The Orioles made three cuts on Sunday, reassigning first baseman Chris Marrero, right-hander Mike Wright and right-hander Fabio Castillo to minor league camp.
Marrero, who played parts of two seasons with the Washington Nationals in 2011 and 2013, was sidelined early in camp with an oblique injury he suffered while swinging. He has tested the injury multiple times since then without much improvement.
"It's frustrating for us, and I know him, too, because he was a guy we targeted in the offseason," Showalter said. "Every day, I can see he's wanting to go out and test it and test it, but that's not what you do with those things."
Showalter said he wanted Marrero to concentrate on getting healthy instead of competing for a roster spot. And when he does, Showalter said he will bring him back to play in a major league spring training game.
Showalter said Wright, who allowed one run in three innings in spring training, will go to minor league camp to get stretched out to pitch in the Triple-A Norfolk rotation.
New line of sight for Gausman
After he debuted a new pair of prescription glasses and pitched well against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night at JetBlue Park, right-hander Kevin Gausman joked that he feels like he can create a little bit of an alter-ego with his new specs.
"Maybe it will evolve into a piece of tape in the middle," Gausman said with a smile, referring to Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, who is played by Charlie Sheen in the baseball movie Major League. "Whatever makes that hitter think, 'What is this geek doing on the mound?' and then throw it by them and get some swings and misses."
Gausman, one of baseball's top pitching prospects, admits there were a few times when he had trouble seeing signs last season.
"That was one of the things last year," Gausman said. "I crossed up [Matt] Wieters one too many times, and it's never good when you have a catcher who doesn't know if you know what you're going to throw or he doesn't know."
And on Saturday night, Gausman allowed just one hit over three scoreless innings. He struck out three of the first four batters he faced — retiring Daniel Nava, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli all on split-fingered fastballs — and retired the first seven batters he faced.
Patton makes spring debut
Left-hander Troy Patton made his first Grapefruit League debut Saturday night, entering in the ninth inning of the Orioles' 13-2 rout of the Red Sox on Saturday night in Fort Myers.
Patton will serve a 25-game suspension to open the season after he tested positive for a banned amphetamine, and Showalter has said that Patton won't pitch much this spring since the club needs innings to evaluate other pitchers trying to make the team.
"It's difficult because I don't have the same schedule, I don't know when I'm going to pitch," Patton said. "It's actually more like a regular season situation. But it has been weird watching every game [and not pitching]."
On Saturday night, Patton struck out two and walked a batter to open the inning before allowing a two-run homer to catcher Christian Vazquez.
Around the horn
South Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon threw a bullpen session Sunday before leaving for Ottawa, Canada to obtain his work visa. Yoon has an interview appointment set for Monday morning, and the process it expected to take about three days. Showalter said he expects Yoon to jump right into pitching in a Grapefruit League game once he returns. … Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who left his last start on Friday after three batters with a left shin bruise, is tentatively set to make his next start on Tuesday against Boston. He would be scheduled to pitch at least three innings. Gonzalez threw a light bullpen session Sunday … Left-hander Brian Matusz will pitch next either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on Gonzalez. Matusz is scheduled to travel to Philadelphia to get a wart on his left middle finger removed. Catcher Michael Ohlman will join him to also have a wart removed. … Center fielder Adam Jones is leaving the club Tuesday for the birth of his first child.
Baltimore Sun columnist Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun