After three games, it’s hard to draw many conclusions about this year’s Orioles. One is clear. They desperately miss Manny Machado.
Of course, that’s not headline news. Machado’s defensive and offensive skills are far better than Ryan Flaherty’s, but after three games, his absence is glaring.
Flaherty isn’t a bad defender at third. He loudly volunteered in spring training that he wasn’t in Machado’s class with the glove.
It’s at the plate where Machado is missed most. There’s no natural No. 2 hitter. J.J. Hardy and David Lough have been there, but Hardy is best suited for batting lower in the order.
Flaherty is 0-for-11 in the first two games, and having him and either Steve Lombardozzi or Jonathan Schoop in the eight and nine holes, doesn’t make for a productive batting order.
If Flaherty plays regularly at second when Machado returns, or the Orioles decide to keep Schoop, they can live with one hitter that struggles.
No one with the Orioles is guessing when Machado will return. Manager Buck Showalter hurried through an injury report during Thursday’s pregame press briefing, noting only that Machado was making progress.
The hope is that Machado plays by the end of this month, but perhaps that’s optimistic. The Orioles know they need Machado. The good thing is that once he’s ready to play, his skills should return quickly. The Orioles hope his return is a quick one.