SARASOTA, Fla. — Baltimore all-star third baseman Manny Machado will open the season on the 15-day disabled list, Orioles Manager Buck Showalter announced Sunday.
Machado ran for the second consecutive day on Sunday, but it appears that he is still weeks away from returning to the active roster as he continues to overcome a left calf strain and regain the necessary strength in his left leg.
One of the major stories of this year’s spring training has been Machado’s recovery from the Oct. 14 surgery on his left knee. And while the initial timetable for Machado’s return from a torn medial patellofemoral ligament is four to six months, both the Orioles and Machado had hoped that the 21-year-old would be able to walk down the orange carpet on opening day at Camden Yards.
“We didn’t want to throw a wet blanket on it because you don’t want to underestimate the human body, especially Manny’s, but he’ll be fine,” Showalter said. “Then you can get on with knowing what the end game is and knowing what you’ve got ahead of you. He needs to know, too. Think about it. He’s walking in here and trucks are leaving for Baltimore and players are getting ready, and he’s just looking forward to taking infield in BP, and that’s it, just standing around watching the game.”
Showalter said he talked to Machado in the fifth inning of Sunday’s Grapefruit League game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, telling him that the manager was considering an announcement that Machado would open the season on the disabled list so that he wouldn’t be asked about it anymore and can focus on becoming completely healthy.
On Saturday — two days after returning from getting all restrictions on his knee removed by performing surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache — Machado said he didn’t know whether he’d be ready by opening day, but he didn’t rule it out.
“I don’t obviously reveal everything,” Showalter said. “We knew. He knew. He knows the level that he has to be at to perform in the big leagues, and we want to get it right the first time. He knows how much all of our guys mean to our club, so when we get him, we want to get him right. He wants to be fair to everybody.
“I think it’s almost — I don’t want to say a relief — but at least to know this isn’t a failure by any stretch. I still think you’re going to get him sometime in April. For us to get out of here and everything, kind of stop a little bit, I think when he gets a couple games under his belt, I think it’ll move quickly because he’ll quit thinking about all the moving parts.”
Even though Machado’s DL stint will be backdated so that he can return April 6, he will continue his recovery in extended spring training and will then have a 20-day window for a minor league rehab assignment.
“We’ve got a pretty good idea about how much time it would take,” Showalter said. “From here on out, the next time you’ll see him will be in Frederick, Bowie, Norfolk. . . . We may even work him out of our locker room. I think that’s probably where we’re headed. But he’s made a lot of strides. He’s getting close. [The pain was] almost completely gone today. So I think it’s good for him to kind of start getting in that frame of mind now.”
Opening-day starter Chris Tillman, who was scratched from his start Friday, said he feels better after a case of the flu and will start in the Orioles’ split-squad game on the road Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte, Fla.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Tillman said of the illness. “I’ll tell you that much. It wasn’t good. I just had the stomach flu, I guess. They had a hard time telling whether it was food poisoning or the flu, but I think they settled on the flu. I feel much better now.”