SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter won’t rule out third baseman Manny Machado for opening day. However, the news today that Machado’s final knee examination won’t take place on Tuesday as tentatively scheduled presents a serious obstacle in getting him in the March 31 lineup.
Machado hasn’t run in five days due to scar tissue breaking up in the knee, a common occurrence following surgery.
“That’s resolving itself pretty good right now and I think he will probably get back in the flow of the program he’s been on in the next few days,” Showalter said.
“There’s no sense in doing that (appointment) until he can really show them what he can do running. So that’s got to get cleared up first, where he’s back running again, and then (Dr. Neal ElAttrache) can completely clear him again.
“I heard from Manny he’s got a vacation home in Naples, so we’re trying to hook that up. Anything to avoid having to go to the West Coast. But if that’s what we have to do, that’s what we have to do.”
Machado underwent surgery on Oct. 14 to repair a torn medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee.
Asked if Machado making Tuesday’s appointment is now a stretch, Showalter replied, “I would say so. What’s bigger than a stretch? Not going to happen.”
Machado is continuing with his other baseball activities. He’s only prohibited from running.
“The way I understand it, it’s scar tissue that flared up and got a little sore and we decided not to push it, which is what we talked about all along,” Showalter said. “We’re not going to push it to the point where it ends up being something. We want to resolve this. The trainers have talked to the doctors and you expect that. The surgery side, the knee and everything feels great. That’s been the most encouraging part.”
It seems unlikely that Machado will be ready on opening day, but Showalter won’t dismiss the possibility.
“I wouldn’t say very, very difficult,” he said. “Nolan Reimold is going to have 22 at-bats in two days. In four days, we can get Manny more plate appearances than guys over here are going to break camp with. That’s something if you so deemed it. So certainly it looks like that way.
“I’m not there yet. I’m not going to throw that wet blanket over that yet. I know Manny’s not.
“I just take it day-to-day. I look at the medical boards and at some point, I’ll say to Richie (Bancells), ‘Is this a pipe dream or not?’ But it’s not. We look at everything, the roster we break camp with as some finality. It’s tough to convey that to the players.”
Showalter provided updates on other injured Orioles.
David Lough: “He went to the doctors yesterday. That checked out pretty good. I know he’s going to get some other tests, just to be sure. I haven’t talked to him today, but Richie in the medical report this morning says they want to rule out everything before they move forward with it. Right now, he’s got a stiff neck. It’s better today than it was yesterday from what I understand.”
Showalter said a concussion hasn’t been “completely ruled out, but the preliminary tests they did yesterday did not show it. I’m hoping to have him back shortly.”
Matt Wieters: “Monday. A lot better today. He’s had a little discoloration in the bottom. It wasn’t like an extensive roll of the ankle. I expect him to be a player Monday.”
Nick Markakis: “He’s good enough to play. He’s ready to play. Since he isn’t going to Dunedin tomorrow, but he is going to Clearwater Monday, I want to give him the benefit of two more days to clear up.”
Alexi Casilla: “I haven’t heard that yet. I talked to him going down the hall. He said he felt a lot better today. He said he could have played yesterday, too. There’s no sense in pushing it and having it flare up and having it more sore than it was.”
Showalter is familiar with Casilla, which helps a bit in determining whether the veteran infielder can make the roster despite limited at-bats this spring.
“Sometimes absence makes the heart grow fonder, depending on what you’re looking at, and who’s taking his place,” Showalter said. “Someone who never plays and the guy who plays in front of him is struggling, that other guy looks a lot better. Do you know what I mean? I think Casi knows it’s a competitive place and get back in there and remind us of what he can do.”
Is Nelson Cruz in center field today because Showalter wants to evaluate him, or because guys like Lough, Adam Jones and Francisco Peguero aren’t available?
“It’s more the latter,” Showalter replied. “I can tell you a long story about someone in Texas telling me that he’s a center fielder and we’re missing the boat on him. The second day, they asked me not to play him out there anymore. I said, ‘No, we’ve got eight more days out there.’ No, he’ll be fine out there. I just want to get him at-bats. Plus, it’s a left-handed starter. I want people to see who they would normally see during the season, like Delmon (Young) and Steve (Pearce), and give Steve a day out in the outfield, too.”