BALTIMORE — An impressive weekend in Frederick was apparently all the Orioles needed to see from Manny Machado.
Prior to the postponement of Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the All-Star third baseman was set to be activated from the disabled list, but he will wait at least another day as rain continued to hit the Baltimore area. The gloomy weather forecast didn’t diminish the good news of the 21-year-old’s recovery from offseason knee surgery being complete.
Machado went 8-for-12 with five extra-base hits and a stolen base in three games for the Keys as team officials traveled to their Single-A affiliate to determine how close he was to being ready. A rainout on Monday prevented Machado from receiving more at-bats as the Keys’ scheduled designated hitter, but there was increasing speculation over the last couple days that the club wouldn’t wait much longer to activate the 2013 Gold Glove winner.
“I felt great. [My] body feels good,” Machado said. “I needed to work on some things and got it done. Go on to the next step. It’s about steps. I thought I was mentally and physically ready to come up here and be part of this team again, and here I am.
Manager Buck Showalter reminded reporters on Tuesday that Machado received extensive at-bats against live pitching in extended spring training contests and simulated games prior to his brief minor league rehab assignment. Machado had roughly 50 plate appearances, according to the Baltimore skipper.
Machado’s return comes just over seven months after suffering a season-ending knee injury at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sept. 23.
“It was a baseball decision, not a medical decision anymore,” said Showalter about activating Machado for the Pittsburgh series. “We’ll take each day as it comes and get feedback from him and his knee will give him feedback.”
Showalter has dismissed any notion that the oblique injury suffered by first baseman Chris Davis accelerated the timetable for Machado’s activation and didn’t seem concerned about him being in the lineup despite the wet conditions that eventually forced Tuesday’s postponement.
The Orioles will view Machado as an everyday player immediately but will be flexible with his workload as they would for any player who might have a physical need arise over the course of a full season.
“I’m here to play baseball,” Machado said. “If it’s snow, if it’s rain, whatever. I’m just here to play. Whatever the climate throws out there, I’m going out there to play no matter what.”
Despite Tuesday’s postponement, the Orioles officially re-signed veteran Steve Pearce to boost their depth at the first base position with Davis sidelined until at least May 11. With Davis placed on the 15-day disabled list and the Orioles not immediately announcing a corresponding roster move on Sunday, Pearce officially took his place on the 25-man roster Tuesday night.
In addition to creating a roster spot for Machado on Wednesday, Baltimore will also need to make room later this week for left-handed reliever Troy Patton, who will be returning from a 25-game suspension for amphetamine use. He has one game remaining to serve on his suspension before he can return to the active roster.