With Padres' offense rounding into form, Machado activated

June 2nd, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- The Padres’ offense has been trending upward of late, and on Friday, they welcomed one of their biggest bats back into the fold.

Star third baseman was activated from the 10-day injured list ahead of Friday’s series opener against the Cubs at Petco Park. The move comes 17 days after Machado sustained a fractured metacarpal in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch.

“It’s getting to this point that it’s not even hurting anymore,” said Machado, who played third base and batted cleanup on Friday night. “So it’s about that time to get back in there and play some games.”

In corresponding moves, the Padres also promoted first baseman Alfonso Rivas to serve as a lefty weapon off their bench. To clear space, outfielder José Azocar was optioned to Triple-A El Paso, and designated hitter Nelson Cruz landed on the IL with a right hamstring strain. Catcher Luis Campusano (left thumb surgery) was transferred to the 60-day IL to allow for Rivas to be selected.

Machado’s return might come at the perfect time for an offense that appears to be rounding into form. San Diego struggled to score runs for much of May but averaged 5.8 per game during its recent nine-game trip -- including a 10-spot in Miami on Thursday.

“Couldn’t be a better time to come back and step into this lineup,” Machado said.

The Padres -- in what qualifies as a surprise -- filled in for Machado quite capably with a Rougned Odor/Brandon Dixon platoon. Odor, in particular, caught fire, posting a .953 OPS beginning the day after Machado’s injury. He appears to have earned himself increased playing time with that production -- and he was in the lineup at second base over Ha-Seong Kim on Friday night.

As for Machado, his season had gotten off to a slow start. When he landed on the IL, he had posted just a .231/.282/.372 slash line across 40 games. He says he used the time off partly to reset a few things with his swing.

“My swing feels great,” Machado said. “Feels like it was Spring Training again. So I think that was the biggest point, just getting my swing back to as close to perfect as I can get it to.”

That doesn’t mean Machado enjoyed being inactive. This was, of course, his first stint on the IL since 2014, and he takes immense pride in his ability to remain on the field.

Machado traveled with the team on its nine-game swing through Washington, New York and Miami, and he truly began ramping up his workload in Miami, going through extensive batting practice without feeling many effects of the hand fracture. That’s when he knew he was ready.

“Vacation was awesome,” Machado said, with a wry smile, making the sarcasm abundantly clear. “Going out there and watching the game of baseball. Being home [in Miami] was even better. So it was a great vacation for a couple weeks.”