Machado on his hot start, his knee injury and tonight’s All-Star game

SALISBURY, Md. - In what is likely to be his last appearance for the Delmarva Shorebirds, Orioles’ top prospect Manny Machado will start at shortstop here tonight for the Northern Division at Perdue Stadium in the South Atlantic League All-Star game.

Machado is expected to join Single-A Frederick when the Carolina League’s second half begins on Thursday.

Machado enjoys hitting in this park and has a .348 average in 19 Shorebirds’ home games. He will bat second tonight for the Northern Division, hitting one spot ahead of Hagerstown’s Bryce Harper.

Before he injured his left knee in early May, an injury that sent him to the disabled list for a month, Machado’s bat was on fire. In those first 25 games, he batted .333 with six doubles, five homers, 21 RBIs, a .611 slugging percentage and an OPS of 1.062.

“I got off to a hot start,” Machado said before batting practice today. “I was feeling good about myself and my swing. I just thought I was on fire and I was one of the best players in the league. Hope I can continue playing my game.

“It’s been great. All the ups and downs I’ve had, it’s been a good first half that I’ve had.”

Machado injured his knee May 5 at Asheville. The Orioles initially hoped he would miss just days but he was out a full month.

“We were just taking it easy, knee injuries aren’t that easy. Rather it take longer, than getting injured again. Want to be 110 percent when I got back on the field,” Machado said of his left knee which he said is now fully recovered.

“It’s feeling great, better than ever.”

Machado’s bat has cooled since he returned from the injury and he is batting just .182 in the last 13 games with one homer, three RBIs and a .510 OPS.

“It’s just timing,” he said. “It’s not easy to hit the ball and if you were out a month like I was, it’s pretty hard to come back. You won’t just start hitting home runs again. It’s a process and I feel my swing getting back, it just takes some time.”

Overall, in 38 games, Machado, the third overall pick in round one last June, is batting .276 with eight doubles, six homers, 24 RBIs, a .483 slugging percentage and .859 OPS.

People who have followed the Delmarva team this year say Machado has done a nice job of fitting in and being just one of the guys despite his fame as a high draft pick.

Machado said that is important to him.

“Oh yeah, I’m just trying to be like everyone else,” Machado said. “I’m just a ballplayer trying to get to the big leagues like everyone else. I’m trying to stay humble because this is a very humbling game. I get along with everybody and it’s been good so far.”

The Southern Division All-Stars are taking batting practice here now at the Stadium. One of their coaches, who is throwing some of the BP session is former O’s reliever Steve Kline, a coach for Augusta.

Machado’s Delmarva teammate, Ty Kelly, who is 10th in the league in batting at .312, will bat ninth and start at second base for the Northern Division.

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