SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter knew that reporters were waiting for third baseman Manny Machado to enter the interview room today, so he offered to cut short his post-workout session with the media.
Machado had to meet with the training staff, shower and put on his street clothes, which gave Showalter a few extra minutes to address a variety of subjects.
Let’s start with Showalter’s refusal to pester Machado every day with questions about the knee.
“He knows how much we like him and how proud we are of him and what he means to our club,” Showalter said. “We don’t have to state the obvious. You’re 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, you’re bulletproof. Manny will get a little, not snippy, but the first time something’s kind of painted you as human - I’ve got something wrong with my knee - you don’t like to dwell on it. Plus, don’t tell me I’ve got to be at FanFest, but I’ve got this very important doctor’s appointment. Which one is it? It’s the doctor’s appointment. Of course, we’ll send a plane out and get you and make sure you’re at both of them.
“He just doesn’t like that environment of talking about something that’s happened to him that makes him human. I don’t have a problem with it. It doesn’t bother me. But no one’s asking how I feel today, how my knee surgery is, because I don’t have to play. As long as I can get from there to the mound and back, and hopefully less times than last year.”
Showalter will rely on Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the surgery on Machado’s knee, to provide those updates.
“Only to point,” he said. “We’re following the doctor’s protocol. He’s supposed to take ground balls straight on, he can hit, he can run straight on. But we’re not going side to side, we’re not turning bases. I’m not going to say, ‘Why don’t you go try this, Manny, and let’s see if you’re ahead of schedule.’
“Most of this, I’m going to rely on Manny, because we’re real close to reaching the point where structurally he’s fine. He’s got one more sign-off by the doctors. When that happens, it’s going to be Richie (Bancells), Manny and I. And probably Bobby Dickerson a little bit. (Jim) Presley and (Wayne) Kirby. We’ll lean on them. But an extremely high percentage is going to be what Manny tells me. What he says is gold, with the exception of if he says, ‘I’m ready to take balls side to side’ before the doctor says it’s OK.
“His body will tell him and he’ll tell us. I think we’re going to have our arms around it. And I don’t care whether we wait a week, a month or don’t. There’s a speed and a tempo down here in workouts and a speed and tempo in games and then there’s another one. Then, it’s every day. It’s not, ‘I think I’ll take tomorrow off.’ No.
“I do not want a setback. Shame on us. Or shame on Manny. That’s why when we’re talking he’s ahead of schedule, he’s not ahead of schedule. You look at the time frame and the experience level of stuff like this, that’s what they base that on, but they’re not a bunch of robots. Everybody’s got different skeletal structure.”
Showalter indicated that newly signed utility player Jimmy Paredes may not report after being claimed off waivers from the Marlins. What he didn’t say is that Paredes could be removed from the 40-man roster to make room for pitcher Suk-min Yoon.
Just reading between the lines here.
“I don’t know when he would be in this camp. There’s a chance he may not be. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes,” Showalter said.
Miguel Gonzalez didn’t throw his scheduled bullpen session because of yesterday’s back spasms.
“We held him out today just to be on the safe side,” Showalter said. “It’s way too early to be pushing that. It’s not that we didn’t trust him, but we didn’t trust him enough to go around doing all the drills.”
Steve Clevenger caught Eddie Gamboa’s bullpen session today after Michael Ohlman did the honors on Friday. It’s never an easy assignment.
“We need to get a bigger mitt,” Showalter quipped.
“He’s got a pretty good (knuckler). I like the fact that he’s got two of them. A hard one and a soft one. Most of the good knuckleballers, I’ve found, have two of them.
“You can tell good people who have done it have been talking to him.”