The Baltimore Orioles received uplifting news Tuesday evening, learning that Manny Machado has a torn medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee. The 21-year-old all-star third baseman will likely avoid surgery and is expected to be ready for spring training barring any setbacks.
The results of an MRI exam came as good news considering the harrowing scene in which Machado was injured Monday afternoon in the Orioles’ 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
“It’s good news for the clubhouse, as much for the person as it is for the team,” Manager Buck Showalter said after the announcement Tuesday. “They’ve all come to respect Manny and the way he’s carried himself this year and the way he’s presented himself.”
The Orioles feared worse, but the MRI showed no damage to any major ligaments. It appears that he will avoid surgery and be able to treat the injury with rest and rehabilitation.
“If the conservative method works,” Orioles head trainer Richie Bancells said, “he will be ready for spring training.”
Machado will get a second opinion, which is customary with injuries like this, but with the approach the Orioles have recommended, Machado could begin light running in six to eight weeks. He will be reexamined by team orthopedist John Wilckens in four weeks.
“It’s the type of injury where you can treat it conservatively,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said. “Our plan would be to treat it conservatively and see how Manny recovers from that. . . . This is not necessarily a new injury. It’s something that he’s done before. Overall, I think it was a good report. . . . For Manny, he’s a young guy. He’s got a long career ahead of him.”
Duquette said that Machado injured the same knee in 2011 playing for Class A Delmarva.
The medial patellofemoral ligament is a smaller ligament that connects the inner side of the patella — or kneecap — to the inner side of the femur, Bancells said. It keeps the kneecap from sliding laterally.
“In his injury, his knee was in a position that his kneecap — or his patella — slid laterally, putting pressure on that ligament and causing it to tear,” Bancells said. “Well, Manny is a young guy, but it’s more common in adolescent athletes.”
Machado, who had started every game this season, had the MRI performed on his knee on Tuesday afternoon in Baltimore.
With one out in the top of the seventh inning Monday, Machado crumpled to the ground in pain, writhing on the infield dirt and holding his left leg after awkwardly hitting the outside of first base while beating out an infield single.
Machado was wheeled out on a stretcher and had an X-ray taken at the stadium before boarding the team flight back to Baltimore. The results of the X-ray weren’t immediately available Monday due to a glitch, Showalter said.
In his first full major league season, Machado was hitting .283 with 14 homers, 71 RBI and an AL-leading 51 doubles.
Machado was replaced at third base Tuesday night by Ryan Flaherty.
The same day the Orioles got good news about next season, their miniscule playoff hopes for this season officially ended.
Baltimore entered Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays needing a miraculous sequence of events to make the playoffs, but they were mathematically eliminated after a 3-2, 10-inning loss at home coupled with the Cleveland Indians’ win against the Chicago White Sox.
After back-to-back homers by Brian Roberts and Nate McLouth put the Orioles ahead 2-1 in the third inning, they were held scoreless for the next seven innings.
Mark DeRosa tied it with a two-out single in the eighth, then drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the top of the 10th.
Chris Tillman allowed one run in seven innings, allowing five hits and striking out nine before leaving with a 2-1 lead.
— Baltimore Sun