Orioles unofficially start season with 2014 FanFest
Manny Machado didn’t guarantee he’d be ready for Opening Day. He did say his rehab was going well, but the uncertainty about the timeline for his return will make his health spring training storyline No. 1.
Machado talked about changing the way he’ll have to run. This wonderfully gifted athlete suffered two knee injuries, the first came in Delmarva in May 2011, and the second at Tampa Bay last September.
When he went for his checkup in Los Angeles on Friday, Machado looked at tape of his running, and was shown that he’ll have to make changes to avoid injury in the future.
From what I saw [Friday], it's an easy fix but it's more mental than anything else and it's more getting the right positioning and getting my glutes and quads where they need to be,” Machado said.
"It was phenomenal just to see what I need to improve on so this won't occur again. Seeing on video what my knee does and what I need to get better on. Kind of give me an idea what I need to work on this month to finally be full-go and get back on the field."
The biggest news to come out of Saturday’s FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center was that Machado may well not be ready for Opening Day.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. When Machado’s surgery was announced last October, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said it wouldn’t be “the end of the world” if the 21-year-old phenom wasn’t ready for March 31.
The Machado who came to FanFest seemed a lot more at ease in talking with the media. He was expansive and informative—because he was so obviously interested in what Dr. Neal ElAttrache had discovered.
“I think it's the best decision I made in my career to get the surgery, just to fix these problems that are going to help me out 15, 10 years from now. Not something that's just a quick fix for now,” Machado said.
If you’re coming to early spring games in Sarasota, Fla., forget about seeing Machado. He says he’ll be re-evaluated in six weeks. That’s March 14.
In order for Machado to be ready for Opening Day, he’ll need about two weeks worth of games. Unless he starts playing a few days after the re-evaluation, Opening Day is out of the question.
If Machado won’t be ready until two or three weeks into the season, that brings up the question of who will play third in his absence. It could be Ryan Flaherty with Jemile Weeks taking over second. Rule 5 draft pick Michael Almanzar, one of the few players on the 40-man roster not to attend Saturday’s FanFest, could have a shot to make it, at least temporarily.
The turnout for Saturday’s event at the Baltimore Convention Center was an impressive 15,000, below last year’s record 18,000, but it showed there’s still a lot of passion for the Orioles in the area.
There were many questions asked about the team’s moves this offseason, and Duquette said the team isn’t done yet. He reiterated that he believes the Orioles’ way to success is by developing young players and through trades and not in snaring big ticket free agents.
That’s been Duquette’s mantra since he took over in Nov. 2012. Use the farm system and international scouting. While he’s engaged in some preliminary talks about an extension with Chris Davis, and wants J.J. Hardy to stick around beyond this year, he’s focused on settling with Matt Wieters before an arbitration hearing. A long-term deal with Wieters seems far off.
In other observations, Steve Johnson looked terrific. He’ll be leaving Baltimore for Florida on Monday and hopes that his workout regimen will pay off. It was also funny to note that Adam Jones was just a footnote. There’s no real news about him other than he made sure Machado got to FanFest by picking him up on his private jet.
Troy Patton vowed to stay off Adderall, which he says is the reason he failed a drug test. He won’t pitch in many, if any spring games, as he serves his 25-game suspension.
And, I would never have recognized Nick Markakis with his huge beard. Markakis hasn’t shaved in more than four months, but I bet he’ll do so in the next 10 days.