2:39 PM EST, February 16, 2014
It would be quite normal for a young player like Manny Machado to want to push his rehab program too hard to get back in the Orioles lineup in time for Opening Day. It would also be foolish and it's obvious that both he and the team knows that.
From the time Machado had his knee surgically repaired and his medical team came up with a carefully constructed program to strengthen it and prepare him to return to a full range of baseball activities, he has not been allowed to do anything before its prescribed time. Still, recent major league history is littered with stories of players who rushed back from injury and put their careers in danger to jump the timeline by a few weeks.
Machado has, by all accounts, followed doctors orders to the letter and he said again on Sunday that if he has to wait a few weeks after Opening Day to make sure that he's "110 percent healthy," that's what he's going to do. He knows that it's a lot more important how you finish a season than how you start it.
Manager Buck Showalter, meanwhile, has sought to make sure that Machado is not constantly peppered with questions from coaches, players or media that might make him feel pressure to get ahead of himself.
There doesn't seem to be any danger of that. Machado knows what's at stake and -- despite his youth -- has no trouble articulating the correct priorities. The important thing for everyone else to understand is that when he comes back -- whether it's on Opening Day or May 1 -- it will be the right time for all concerned.