As it was explained to me a few weeks ago, Machado will undergo a final dynamic functional testing, at which point he should be given the green light.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache examined Machado's knee on Jan. 16 and told the third baseman that he's six to eight weeks ahead of schedule, according to a team source. At that time, Machado was instructed to return on Jan 31, which appears to be mere formality.
Machado underwent surgery on Oct. 13, performed by ElAttrache, after the knee buckled for a second time during a Sept. 23 game against the Rays at Tropicana Field that left him writhing in pain on the turf. The estimated recovery time was set at approximately six months.
The 75-minute procedure included an arthroscopy and open reconstruction of the medial patellar femoral ligament. A hamstring tendon was used to graft a replacement for the ruptured ligament.
Fortunately for Machado, an MRI didn't reveal any damage to the ACL or MCL.
The Orioles could have started Ryan Flaherty or Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar at third base in the March 31 opener at Camden Yards if Machado began the season on the disabled list. However, he's expected to be in the lineup against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester.
Machado will sign autographs Saturday afternoon at FanFest beginning at 2 p.m. at Station 4, joining Steve Clevenger, Tim Berry and Joe Orsulak.