Orioles third baseman Manny Machado hobbled into the auxiliary clubhouse on crutches today and left the same way. He’s not quite ready to walk on his own, but he’s otherwise in pretty good spirits.
That will happen - the crutches and the positive attitude - when an MRI reveals far less damage to the knee than once feared.
“Obviously, when it first happened, it was a terrifying moment for myself, all the fans and my teammates,” Machado said, recalling the horrific spill he took at first base during the seventh inning of Monday’s game at Tropicana Field, his left knee buckling, his face twisted in pain.
“Obviously, it wasn’t fun, but I got the results yesterday and it was much better than what we expected it was.
“My first initial thought was that I’m out for the season. There goes our chances of me trying to help the team trying to make the postseason. That was my first initial thought. Then after (I thought), something happened to my knee. I really didn’t know what it was at the moment. It wasn’t giving any thought if it was my ACL, or whatever it was.”
It turned out to be a torn medial patellofemoral ligament in his left kneecap, an injury that can be rehabbed and allow Machado to be ready for spring training.
Machado said the last 48 hours have been “tough.” No wonder.
“It’s something that not everybody wants to be a part of and wants to deal with it, something that’s part of life, part of playing a game every day 100 percent and giving 110 percent and trying to help your team win,” he said. “Unfortunately, these types of things happen, but it’s just something that I want to give thanks for to all the fans out there, my teammates, our coaching staff, all the players around the league and the Baltimore Orioles for all the support they’ve given me these last couple of days. We just want to look forward to it, and look forward to next season and getting healthy.”
Machado will seek a second opinion on Monday.
“I’m pretty confident what Dr. (John) Wilckens told me yesterday,” Machado said. “He dealt with it a couple years ago when it happened to me before. It’s just the nature of the fact, just go up and get a second opinion.”
Machado hyperextended his knee while running to third base during a 2011 game with Single-A Delmarva.
“It’s kind of the same thing a little bit,” he said. “Obviously this is a little more painful, especially at this stage of the year. That just made it just worse.”
Surgery could become an option later if rest and rehab don’t allow him to resume baseball activities.
“Obviously it’s out there,” he said. “For now, it’s not in the back of my mind. I’m only 21 years old. I’m so young, my ligaments are going to recover faster than a 30 year old. That’s the first step, just steady rehab and let it strengthen on its own like it has before. If it doesn’t, then if there’s something else we have to do, which is surgery, if it gets to that point. Hopefully, it keeps getting stronger.”
The support has come from all directions - teammates, rivals, coaches from around the league.
“Everybody has supported me through this and been on my side,” he said. “I want to give thanks to all those people out there praying for me.”
Machado likely will finish in the top three in Most Valuable Oriole voting, along with Chris Davis and Adam Jones. He batted .283 with 51 doubles - tops in the American League - 14 homers and 71 RBIs while starting all 156 games before the injury. He also played Gold Glove-caliber defense at third base and may be rewarded with the trophy.
“I think I had a great season,” he said. “It was my first full season, I think I did great. It kind of sucks that it had to end like this. And then on top of that, us not being able to make the playoffs just makes it that worse. It’s unfortunate.
“Luck hasn’t been on our side this year, coming with injuries that have happened these last couple of days and how everything has played out. But you know, we’re just going to put it aside and, my teammates are out there, they’re going to finish out these last couple games. They’re going to grind it out like we’ve been grinding it out. Finish strong.”
Machado received a loud ovation from the Orioles fans last night when he was shown on the video screen in center field.
“It’s something that I got goose bumps with it,” he said. “Once again, I’ve got to thank all those fans out there. They’ve supported me throughout the whole year and these last couple days. I just want to give them thanks for being there.”