SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) - Six months after his second knee surgery in two years, Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado reported to spring training happy, and so far healthy.
Machado has yet to play a full major league season, and he’s confident that 2015 is going to be the year.
He suffered a left knee injury in Sept. 2013 that kept him out for the first month of last year, was suspended a week for a bat-throwing incident, and ended his year on Aug. 11 when his right knee buckled.
Manager Buck Showalter likes what he sees out of the 22-year-old and he’s going to play him more often that he would normally in spring.
Most regulars don’t play many road games, but Showalter said Machado will.
“I’ll take as many as I can get. I haven’t played in a long time. As much as I can get, I’ll take it. I’m pumped for spring. I’m pumped to play some games. I want to get out there and play as much as I can,” Machado said. “No matter what, I’m just excited to play.”
A year ago, Machado didn’t play at all in spring training. When he returned to action last May 1, Machado was slow to get started and ended up playing just over half a season, 82 games. He hit 12 home runs with 32 RBIs and batted .278.
In his 2013 season when he was the American League’s starting third baseman in the All-Star game and won the Gold Glove, Machado led the majors in doubles with 51. That total dropped to just 14 a year ago.
In mid-January, Machado passed his first test, running and hitting during the final day of Baltimore’s three-day mini-camp. He reported several days ahead of schedule, eager to show that he’s back.
“I see it like my first spring training again. I’m that excited. I’m fortunate to be here. I’m looking forward to playing games again,” Machado said. “I’m just excited to get back out there on the field again, honestly. It’s my main concern, getting back out there, kind of just getting the feel for being a team again. I’m getting ready for tomorrow to get the show on the road. Let’s get it.”
There haven’t been any setbacks in his rehab and in first week on the field.
“I think everything has been going smooth, knock on wood. Everything’s been going good. I’ve just got to keep my strength up. I’ve got two brand new knees now, so it’s just time to go out there an play and keep do what I’ve been doing, stay on it,” Machado said.
Showalter likes how Machado looks, and said he’s asked for extra ground balls at third base.
“He’s so ready to go. I can tell. He’s almost getting bored,” Showalter said.
In 2012, his first season, Machado played in the postseason, and last season he had to sit it out.
“It’s tough watching the team go to the playoffs and go as far as they did,” Machado said. “It was tough being on the sideline watching the games. It’s not easy.”
NOTES: Showalter has named RHPs Ubaldo Jimenez and Kevin Gausman to start the Orioles first two spring games. Jimenez will pitch against Detroit at Lakeland, Florida, on Tuesday. . Baltimore will try newly signed INF Everth Cabrera in the outfield during the spring and will give 1B Chris Davis some time in right field, Showalter said.
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