12/11/2013 11:49 A.M. ET
Machado's recovery going according to plan
Building strength, O's third baseman sets sights on being ready for season
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is progressing favorably in his rehab from left knee surgery as the 21-year-old hopes to start running in the next few weeks with an eye on being ready at the start of the season.
Machado, who is rehabbing at the University of Miami, has been doing mostly pool work and stabilization exercises, and he said in a telephone interview with MLB.com on Wednesday that he's walking with no issues and is encouraged with the first two months of recovery.
"Pretty much, it's been going great," said Machado, who had physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache repair a torn medial patellofemoral ligament in a 75-minute procedure in Los Angeles on Oct. 14. "Every session I get stronger and better, and that's what we are looking for right now."
"We are doing a lot of stability stuff, working on getting my legs strong, doing weights, trying to get my quads and glutes as strong as possible."
Machado, who recently returned from a trip to France, has been following rehab sessions with upper-body work in the weight room to help him stay on track for as normal an offseason as possible. The 21-year-old, named to the American League All-Star team in his first full season, had only a slight limp when accepting his Gold Glove Award weeks after the surgery, and he said the recovery -- conservatively estimated at six months -- from his first major operation has been better than anticipated.
"It was the perfect-case scenario," Machado said of the aftermath of his late-season injury, which involved him getting carted off the field. "It was unfortunate I got hurt in the first place, but it happened at the end of the season and a couple weeks later I had my surgery, so it was definitely a good thing it happened in the offseason.
"I'm excited to get back on the field and get out there and go to Spring Training. Everything has been good with the surgery, it went well. Obviously I was a little scared, but just trusting my doctors and it's been great so far."
Manager Buck Showalter said earlier this offseason that he felt good about Machado's chances to suit up in time for Opening Day in Baltimore on March 31 and that the third baseman would have to play in spring games by mid-March to make that target.
It's a goal within Machado's grasp given his recovery so far, although the organization won't hurry its prized young infielder, and he's doing his best to not get caught up in a specific date.
"Obviously you want to get ready as soon as possible and as quickly as you can, but this type of surgery I kind of try to take it day by day, listen to what my doctors and trainers are saying, don't try to force anything," Machado said. "Once I'm ready, I'm going to feel 100 percent and be ready to help my team win by putting on the Orioles uniform. And whenever that comes, it's going to be a big day -- whether it's Opening Day or a couple days after, I can't say for sure right now. But each session that I do rehab, I feel much better.
"It's been going really good, I'm really happy and hopefully I can get back on the field soon. Once I get out there at that point, it's getting my trust back and feeling 100 percent."
After Machado is able to work up to a sprint, he'll gradually get into lateral movements and practice cutting angles. Given the nature of his injury, he will be able to start hitting and doing light baseball activities after that, although a return to the field is still "a while down the road."
Having Machado ready to start the season would be a significant boost for the O's.
Machado has become a mainstay in the lineup since being promoted from Double-A Bowie in August 2012, and he played in all 156 games last season before suffering the injury. The former first-round Draft pick hit .283/.314/.432 with an AL-leading 51 doubles.
Machado's doctors have been in constant contact with the Orioles, with plans for him to be invited to the team's minicamp next month to further gauge his progress.
"I talk on texts to most of the guys on the team, we've been keeping in touch," Machado said. "I'm just excited to get back out there. I'm getting ready for the season as well as everybody else."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.