FREDERICK, Md. -- Manny Machado had a wonderful weekend in Frederick. He was 8-for-12 in his three games here, and indications are that he may be returning to the Orioles for Tuesday’s game with Pittsburgh.
Machado played 63 games for the Keys in 2011, and laughed when he was asked if the weekend was like returning to his old high school.
“Something like that. To go back to the old days and bring you back to reality,” Machado told CSNBaltimore.com on Monday, about 90 minutes before Frederick’s game with Carolina was rained out.
“It brings back a lot of memories, a lot of great memories, overall great weekend, great fans coming out, had a few things to work on, it’s been a good welcome back here,” Machado said.
Last October, Machado underwent left knee surgery in Los Angeles, and after a difficult rehab, he can’t wait to rejoin his team.
“I definitely feel great. I feel great at the plate. I feel great running the bases. I feel great in the field. It’s been great. I’ve had no complaints, no pain, no nothing, so now it’s a matter of just feeling ready, feeling ready to go,” Machado said.
“I can be ready to compete at an elite level every day, 140 games that are going to be left, 130-whatever there are going to be. That’s the point I’m at now. This point is not about what you’re hitting. It’s about how I feel.”
Machado had four doubles and a triple, played third base and was the designated hitter. He was supposed to be the DH in Monday’s game.
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At 21, Machado who’s been in the big leagues since Aug. 2012, was still the second youngest player on the Keys. Only shortstop Adrian Marin, also from Miami, is younger.
He got to mentor his temporary team for the weekend.
“They’re picking my brain here. It was good. It’s always good when a big league guy comes down to the minor leagues, just for a few days, gives you an opportunity to pick their brains and see how they work, and see how they get ready for a game. It’s exciting to have them come and ask me and get what they need from me being here,” Machado said.
On Sunday, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that much of the decision on when to return would be Machado’s.
“I’m definitely going to give him a straight answer: that I feel great, and that’s the only thing I can tell him. The rest is out of my hands, and something that I’ve been feeling good, I’ve been feeling good. That’s it, I feel great, that’s the answer I’m going to give him. That’s all,” Machado said.
Machado suffered his injury on Sept. 23 at Tampa Bay. It was impossible to gauge how difficult his rehab would be.
“Oh no, you think it’s going to be hard, but then you go through surgery,” Machado said. “It’s a long process. It’s not the type of injury where you can do a rehab and you’re going to be fine in a month or so. It’s very hard. It’s a very long road back where you have to cross a lot of paths and adversities.
“It’s been long, it’s real long, it’s been too long. Looking back on that day, I feel very confident in myself and the rehab I’ve done and the work where I’ve gotten back to where I needed to be. Now, it’s just out of my hands and just go out there and laying it all out there like I used to.”
The Orioles are 12-12 without Machado, with J.J. Hardy missing eight games with back spasms and Chris Davis not out with a strained oblique.
“It’s awesome. It’s where we need to be. We haven’t even played at an elite level as a team. Obviously, I haven’t been there, J.J.’s been hurt. We’ve had a lot of problems, with injuries, not hitting the ball well. It’s something that I’m glad is happening now, and not in the long run. I think the team is great. We’ve just had to put it together little by little,” Machado said.
“It’s just the first month, and I feel confident in the team we have. When we’re all in the lineup, we’re going to be a great team and a top competitive team that’s going to have an impact on baseball and in the league.”
The All-Star third baseman has learned an important lesson from his injury.
“Being patient. It’s something you don’t heal from it in one day. You take it day-by-day and patience is the number one key and the number one goal you’ve got to have in your mind, patience,” Machado said.