Baltimore, MD -- 06/18/2016 -- Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) returns to his original position with the return of shortstop J.J. Hardy at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Baltimore doubled over Toronto, 4-2.
Baltimore, MD -- 06/18/2016 -- Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado (13) returns to his original position with the return of shortstop J.J. Hardy at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Baltimore doubled over Toronto, 4-2. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Orioles manager Buck Showalter, with a bit of relief in his voice, said after Wednesday's 7-2 win over the San Diego Padres that his team "got through this four-game stretch without Manny" Machado.

The All-Star infielder finished his four-game suspension for his role in this month's fight with Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, and he is eligible to return Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

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The preceding four games, which spanned three opponents and included a one-off road trip to Texas for a makeup game, was a difficult one for the team. It played those games down a bench player because of Machado's suspension, and had other roster restrictions due to Brian Duensing's elbow injury and Paul Janish's demotion.

Before Wednesday's game, Showalter outlined the challenges they faced, especially relating to a 10-7 loss Tuesday to San Diego.

"We were forced last night because of this roster issue to do a lot of things we wouldn't normally do during a game," Showalter said. "I can't tell you how much the 24 [players] has affected the way you manage, coach, the moves you make, the lineups you have to make, the bullpen moves you make. As much as we miss Manny the player, it's as much, if not more affected the other stuff. It just makes no sense, in a lot of ways. A lot of times, things are self-inflicted. I still haven't figured out why we have to play at 24 for something they did."

Upon Machado's return, he'll go back to third base, where he's one of baseball's top defenders. He deputized more than ably at shortstop in the absence of J.J. Hardy, who is now back after missing six weeks with a foot fracture.

That moves Ryan Flaherty back into a utility role, which is unfortunate for him, given how he's performed in a semi-regular role. Flaherty played standout third base defense while batting .236/.317/.368 with three home runs. He's homered twice in the last four games.

Flaherty could still play a little more often as Hardy eases back into action from a foot injury that appears to still be physically limiting him, but Machado and Hardy will be the first choices on that side of the infield. He could also get a start here or there in left field, though the outfield situation is crowded enough.

Machado showed well for himself at shortstop, but performed better offensively with the more familiar role at third base. He hit .394/.439/.697 with six home runs in 24 games at third base this season, and hit .273/.347/552 with 11 home runs in 44 games at shortstop.

Hardy is batting .250 (5-for-20) since his return Saturday.

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