Orioles' Manny Machado cleared for some activities, but still uncertain on return

Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who had surgery on his left knee Oct. 14, said Saturday that he has been cleared for some baseball activities -- an important step in his recovery -- but he's not putting a date on his return to action.

And he's not setting a goal that he must play on Opening Day, March 31.

“I can't give you a real answer on what timeline when I'm going to be ready,” Machado, who tore his medial patellofemoral ligament Sept. 23 while running to first base, said at FanFest. “I am only three-and-a-half months out of surgery. This takes four to six months, and it's more to the six-month range that guys have gone out there and are 100 percent and ready to play.”

Machado said he's more concerned about staying in the lineup once he is back.

“I am trying to play 162 games or 150,” Machado said. “Once I get out there, I am going to be playing every day. I am not going to take a day off here or a day off there just because my knee is aching or I don't feel right. But I definitely do have the confidence now that I can go out there and get better at what I need to be doing and get my strength back, which is the most important thing.”

Machado is now able to begin running, taking grounders and hitting against live pitching, but he can't yet run bases or make plays that require excess strain on his legs.

The 21-year-old Gold Glove Award winner and All-Star said he's hoping to be cleared to play in exhibition games by around mid- to late March “if everything goes according to plan.” And he said it's impossible to know now whether that will allow him enough time to be ready for Opening Day.

“Once I'm cleared to play, then let's see how I feel when I am sliding, sliding into second base, taking out the second baseman. How did I feel the next day? Am I going to be able to wake up [and] is it going to be hurting? All that comes into play,” he said. “Once I start playing, I can give you a better, more or less, idea when I'll be able to start” the season.

While in Los Angeles for his appointment Friday with Los Angeles Dodgers team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache, Machado went through a battery of tests -- running on a treadmill, shuffling from side to side, jumping on and off boxes -- that were videotaped and then analyzed.

It was discovered, Machado said, that his stride made him susceptible to the knee injury, which previously occurred in 2011 when he was with Low-A Delmarva. He said he needs to strengthen his hips, gluteal muscles and quadriceps. He said he also needs to remain balanced while sprinting, keeping his knees “straight over my toes.”

In essence, he needs to change his stride, which he'll be working at for the next few weeks.

“It's all muscle memory,” Machado said. “I've ran my entire life how I did last year and ... obviously, I've had two injuries in the past three years. That's definitely not right. From what I saw yesterday, it's [fixable] ... but it's more mental than anything.”

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