It's all been smooth sailing for Manny Machado in his recovery from his knee injury up until now, but Saturday saw the first sign that things aren't going perfectly. In his usual pre-spring game comments, manager Buck Showalter revealed that Machado has not been running for the past five days due to scar tissue in his knee. He was always going to be cutting it close in being ready to play on Opening Day and even this small delay could impact that being able to happen.
Showalter told reporters that he "isn't concerned" and that he "won't throw a wet blanket" on the idea of Machado playing for Opening Day at this time. That's a fine thing to say, but it seems like putting a good spin on disappointing news. There's no changing the fact that Machado was originally scheduled to see his doctor on March 18 to be cleared to get into games and that appointment will not be happening. Right now he's not even cleared to run.
As far as whether Machado could get game-ready quickly once he's healthy enough to play, there's always the Nolan Reimold plan:
If Machado can start running and feels good he could get plenty of atbats in minor league camp. Like Reimold has. Reimold is there today.— Dan Connolly (@danconnollysun) March 15, 2014
There have been some days where it seems like Reimold has been traversing every minor league game and just inserting into the lineup wherever he can to face a live pitcher. Rules can be ignored for things like that in spring training.
Comparing Machado's recovery to anything to do with the oft-injured Reimold is not comforting. Still, that's how he's trying to quickly get game ready. The O's could do the same with Machado.
There's no need to rush. There's no sign that the Orioles are trying to rush him. He may be trying to rush himself, but that's slowed down now. If he's not ready for Opening Day, the O's will just have to adjust until he can play. One option would be for Ryan Flaherty to open up at third base, leaving second base for whoever impresses the O's more out of Jonathan Schoop and Jemile Weeks.
The O's can now go through the rest of spring training with an eye on what to do if they're missing Machado at the start of the regular season and make the best choice after evaluating players over a couple of weeks of Grapefruit League games. Hopefully it doesn't end up being a long absence for Machado from the team.