CHICAGO - Manager Buck Showalter, who almost always proceeds with caution when talking about players returning from injury, was not ready to pronounce third baseman Manny Machado officially yet back in the lineup when he met with reporters here earlier. Machado is in the posted lineup, but the skipper said he needs to make sure Machado gets through batting practice fine. That is the expectation.
What will it mean to have him back?
“We’re capable of winning with and without him but it certainly makes it easier,” Showalter said. “We’ll see. There could be a period he’ll go through, potentially. Also could be a chance that some of the time off has been good for him. Kind of step back a little bit.
“You could tell today, first two or three swings (in early batting practice) he was kind of seeing if anything was there. Then once he didn’t (feel an issue), he turned it loose.”
Orioles closer Zach Britton takes an important step in his comeback from a left forearm strain when he throws to live hitters in a simulated game on Thursday. But Showalter said that, due to bad weather in Florida, the Orioles will send Britton to Single-A Frederick to do that. This is not having him pitching in the regular game, but rather a simulated game at some point beforehand.
Britton threw a 30-pitch bullpen session today.
“Zach went real well today,” Showalter said. “Scott McGregor (O’s pitching rehab coordinator) has been through it all with him, and he’ll monitor that on Thursday. He felt good today.”
Britton is expected to pitch in his first minor league game on a rehab assignment on Monday night for short-season, Single-A Aberdeen in the IronBirds’ season opener.
Showalter said the Orioles have mapped out where and when Britton will pitch leading to his return to the majors. He is just not putting that information out yet. It seems likely Britton could return before the All-Star break.
Utility man Ryan Flaherty threw today for the first time, throwing 25 times from 60 feet. Flaherty is on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain.
“That was a big step for him, and hopefully that will respond well tomorrow. Biggest thing is if he feels good after throwing today, then it should move (faster),” Showalter said.
O’s first base coach Wayne Kirby will miss Wednesday’s game as he leaves the team for his daughter’s high school graduation.