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Machado getting stronger as camp nears

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. -- When Orioles position players report to camp in 24 days, All-Star and Gold Glove-winning third baseman Manny Machado -- recovering from surgery on his left knee -- will be there, but he doesn't have a target date for his return to action.

"Not yet," said Machado, 21, who on Friday night attended a charity bowling event hosted by Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay at Lucky Strike. "When I'm 110 percent -- I don't know whether it's in two months or next week -- it's something I'll just have to get a feel for. And once I'm out there playing every day, I'll have more of an idea when and where I can start."

Earlier this offseason, manager Buck Showalter said that he felt good about Machado's chances of being in uniform for Opening Day in Baltimore on March 31.

But in order to do so, Machado would have to be playing in spring games by mid-March.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache repaired a torn medial patellofemoral ligament in Machado's knee during a 75-minute procedure in Los Angeles on Oct. 14. The recovery time for the procedure is conservatively estimated at six months. Machado said that he is feeling good and ahead of schedule, and he plans to finish his rehab at the University of Miami in two weeks before traveling to Sarasota, Fla., for the start of Spring Training.

"The doctor said everything's going well and according to plan, so at this point it's just seeing how healthy I am and how fast I can get out there," Machado said.

In mid-December, Machado had hoped to be running in a few weeks' time. He had mostly been doing pool work and stabilization exercises, and was already walking with no issues. After working up to a sprint, he would gradually shift into lateral movements and practice cutting angles before moving on to baseball activities.

"I'm able to do most things out on the field," he said on Friday. "It's not 100 percent, but I'm able to catch grounders and do my routine."

His focus has been on doing everything possible to strengthen his leg, and to keep up with his normal offseason routine, he has been following rehab sessions with upper-body work in the weight room.

He feels the rehab process may have actually benefited him.

"It's been difficult, but it's something you have to learn and adjust to with a new schedule," he said. "It's something that's been going well. I actually think I've gotten a lot more done than in the past."

That's encouraging words for the Orioles, who finished the 2013 season with an 85-77 record, tied with the Yankees for third in the American League East.

Machado's presence has been invaluable since his promotion from Double-A Bowie in August 2012. Baltimore fed off his energy, reaching the postseason for the first time in 15 years.

Until his injury, he had played in all 156 games of his first full season in the big leagues, hitting .283 with 14 home runs, 71 RBIs and an AL-leading 51 doubles.

"It was awesome," Machado said of 2013. "I enjoyed it. To put on an Orioles uniform every day with the team we had was something that I was very blessed to be a part of."

Christina De Nicola is a contributor to
Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Manny Machado