Holding their final day of minicamp in Sarasota, the Orioles received an encouraging update on the health of Manny Machado as the 22-year-old went through a workout for manager Buck Showalter.
After taking batting practice and completing base-running drills at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, Machado told reporters in Sarasota that he’s been participating in all baseball-related activities except for fielding grounders laterally, explaining that he’s simply wanted to be cautious in doing so. He will visit with Dr. Neal ElAttrache once more before spring training and expects to receive full clearance at that time.
“It’s been a while since I felt this healthy and good,” Machado said to reporters gathered in Sarasota. “My body feels great, my mind is clear. I’m excited to get back out there. I’m itching actually. I haven’t been itching like this for spring training since my first year of pro ball. I’m just excited to get the season rolling.”
Unlike his left knee injury that occurred in the final week of the 2013 season and subsequently cost him the first month of the 2014 season as he finished his rehab, Machado suffered the same injury to his right knee on Aug. 11 and elected to have season-ending surgery less than two weeks later. The timetable would appear to make it very likely that the 2013 All-Star and Gold Glove third baseman will be ready for Opening Day.
With the Orioles losing outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis in free agency and failing to make a significant addition at this point in the offseason, the healthy returns of Machado and catcher Matt Wieters as well as a bounce-back season from first baseman Chris Davis will be vital as the club tries to defend its American League East title.
Machado got married in the offseason and credits the time he took off for the wedding and honeymoon as being beneficial from a physical and mental standpoint. And based on the reports of how he looked in Sarasota Wednesday, the Orioles feel good about the prospects of the 2010 first-round pick being able to complete his first full major league season.
“I think that getting married and having that honeymoon was perfect timing for God to get me away from all this and bring me back to my senses of how life is,” Machado said. “Because when I came back, I felt like freaking God. I felt awesome, I felt great, my body was feeling great. I think that’s why I’m in this position now that I could do what I’ve been doing, because I took that little time off and kind of let my body heal completely.”