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Despite debut delay, Machado feels 'great'

Orioles third baseman set for first game action since September

Special to

BALTIMORE -- The rain that pelted the infield at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Tuesday afternoon did not concern Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.

The scar on his left knee from offseason surgery also was not any cause for worry.

Instead, Machado, who had surgery in October to repair a torn medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee, was preoccupied about the rainout derailing his potential return to the lineup for the first time since September. Machado opened the season on the disabled list, but he has been pleased with his rehab, and he was further encouraged with his productive weekend with Class A Frederick.

In short, Machado deemed himself ready to play. Mother Nature, however, had other plans, so Machado will have to wait until at least Wednesday to make his 2014 debut.

"I felt ready a couple days ago, that I was able to play every day and get on the field and play nine innings, play extra innings, whatever it may be," Machado said. "I feel good. That's the main thing. I feel great. My body feels good, everything feels good. I'm just excited to be up here."

With slugger Chris Davis being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique, Machado's return could not come at a better time. But while Orioles fans will surely be pumped up for the All-Star's return, his teammates are taking a more practical approach.

"I don't know why we would want to put that much pressure on him and expect him to come back and make an immediate impact," Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy said. "But he's a great player, and he's going to make our team better. So, if it's not an impact in the first week, then it will be for the long haul."

Machado, however, expects to be at full speed right off the bat. Over the weekend, he put up some numbers to justify that confidence, going 8-for-12 with Frederick, including four doubles, a triple and two RBIs.

"I'm here to play baseball. If it is snow, if it is rain," Machado said. "If it is whatever. I've been down in Florida with a lot of sun. So I'm just here to play baseball, whatever the climate throws out there, I'm going to go out there and play no matter what."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter is confident Machado will be able to adjust quickly in his return.

"He's been around the baseball atmosphere and seen pitching for quite a period of time now," Showalter said. "This is not where he's been in the training room and all of a sudden went and played three games in Frederick."

Machado, who was an All-Star last season while batted .283 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs, is ready to pick up where he left off before the injury.

"I did everything possible I could ever do in the rehab to get my strength back, get my flexibility back, get right, basically," Machado said. "I did everything, so now it's just go out there and trust yourself that you put all that hard work into it and go out there and not think about it and go out there and play the game at 110 percent."

Todd Karpovich is a contributor to

Baltimore Orioles, Manny Machado