Manny Machado was the star as the Orioles minicamp in Sarasota rolled along to its conclusion on Wednesday. He is who just about everyone was waiting to see the whole time.
Machado's recovery from his second knee surgery in as many years is one of the key questions facing the Orioles in the upcoming season. Given that the organization has partially rationalized its lack of action on the free agent market with the justification that a returning, healthy Machado is like adding an impact free agent, it seems they're really counting on Machado to deliver on his end.
Appearing in Sarasota on Wednesday, Machado told reporters that he's been doing full baseball activities for a couple of weeks, only he is not yet doing side-to-side agility drills. That seems kind of important as a baseball activity for a third baseman. He did, however, show off with some other drills in front of the crowd, including taking batting practice, fielding fly balls, and doing home-to-second sprints.
You can even watch him do the home to second in a video uploaded by MASN to Youtube:
That is marginally more exciting than pictures of random guys throwing bullpen sessions, if only marginally. At least it's in motion, right?
About his recovery, Machado said it's "like (he has) two new knees." A player sounding upbeat about recovery is certainly encouraging, though there's a whole world of difference between doing some running from home to second and playing nine innings six or seven days a week.
O's manager Buck Showalter also sounded positive about Machado, saying he'd have "signed up for it in blood when we initially did the surgery that we'd be sitting here now." Careful throwing that kind of stuff around, Buck. Someone might be listening. We don't need you getting into any deals with Mr. Applegate.
Buck was happy with a lot of things Wednesday, rattling off a list of players who had lost weight who were supposed to lose weight and players who gained weight who were supposed to gain weight. The last couple of third round picks, Brian Gonzalez and Stephen Tarpley, lost 18 and 25 pounds, respectively, while Hunter Harvey has added 12 pounds since last year.
With all of that boring stuff out of the way, let's get to why we're really here: The mundane pictures that tell us that basically is coming eventually.
Here's Buck looking like he's on a stealth mission while Mark Hendrickson tosses:
#Orioles manager Buck Showalter watching Mark Hendrickson throw a pen session. pic.twitter.com/a3bhjxYg8t— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) January 14, 2015
Someone in an Orioles hat makes like Wilson from Home Improvement as Machado talks to new hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh:
Manny Machado is here. Just stepped out of the indoor cages with new #Orioles hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh. pic.twitter.com/YLaRJnEy2x— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) January 14, 2015
Pitching coach Dave Wallace also looking like he's trying to hide from someone as he observes Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia:
Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia #orioles pic.twitter.com/JgIhnhVs2m— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) January 14, 2015
Maybe that's how they amuse themselves at minicamp. I don't know. The show is now over, though there will be a mini-minicamp in California for the contingent of O's out there soon. That's expected to be attended by Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti. Don't count on any O's reporters making that trip or providing pictures from that.
Is it Opening Day yet?