Machado placed on IL with fractured left hand

May 19th, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- It had been nearly nine years since the last time  found himself on the injured list. The Padres superstar third baseman prides himself on his availability, so, yes, Friday’s transaction pained him greatly.

But a fractured metacarpal is a fractured metacarpal -- and Machado landed on the IL on Friday with that broken bone in his left hand, prior to the Padres’ game against the Red Sox. 

Machado sustained the injury when he was hit by a pitch during Monday’s game against the Royals. An initial X-ray came back negative, but further testing revealed what has been termed a “small fracture,” and Machado seemed resigned to his fate upon his arrival at Petco Park on Friday.

“I think it’s what’s maybe best for the team and myself as well,” Machado said. “If I can’t go, I can’t go.”

Machado’s IL stint is backdated to Tuesday, putting his earliest potential return date as May 26 for the series opener in New York against the Yankees. Manager Bob Melvin wouldn’t rule out that timetable.

But Machado’s return is ultimately dependent on how quickly he heals. He’s yet to resume any baseball activity and said he felt pain even putting his glove on.

“Just take it day by day, see how it heals up,” Machado said. “It’s been feeling better since the initial day. The range of motion is pretty good. It’s just a matter of trying to get that strength up as best as I can.”

A season ago, of course, Machado appeared IL-bound when he sustained a gruesome ankle injury in Colorado. But he managed to play through a severe ankle sprain -- and continued to post MVP-caliber numbers. This injury, Machado acknowledged, would not have allowed for that.

“It’s different than the ankle,” Machado said. “You could cast up the ankle last year, and I was able to just go out there and just run. There’s a lot of things I’ve got to do with my hands -- catching the ball, hitting -- it’s a little bit different. And then you’re talking about a fracture, a broken bone, which needs to heal.”

Without Machado in the lineup, Ha-Seong Kim has moved from second to third base, and he is expected to continue playing there for the duration of Machado’s IL stint. That would allow for a platoon between the lefty-hitting Rougned Odor and the righty-hitting Brandon Dixon, who was recalled from Triple-A El Paso to take Machado’s spot on the roster.

Dixon played first base against Red Sox lefty James Paxton on Friday, with Jake Cronenworth sliding from first to second. When Odor starts at second base against righties, Cronenworth will remain at first.

Needless to say, it’s a downgrade from the offensive prowess of Machado, even if he has been off to a slow start this season, having posted a .231/.282/.372 slash line across 40 games. The San Diego offense has struggled through the first quarter of the season, and the quicker a bat like Machado’s can return to the lineup the better.

“It’s more how he feels with it,” Melvin said. “It’s your bottom hand, and that’s the hand that you typically get a lot of power from. So we’re just really not sure on how he’s going to feel two or three days from now. We think the best thing to do was put him on the IL, and hopefully we’re in a place where he’s close to 100 percent after.”

Machado, who had never broken a bone before Monday, put it simply:

“It just sucks having a broken bone,” he said. “... Hopefully it heals a little faster.”