Will need six to eight weeks to recover; expected to be ready by spring
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles received uplifting news on third baseman Manny Machado on Tuesday afternoon, with an MRI revealing no ACL or MCL damage, but a medial patellofemoral ligament tear in his left knee and a recovery timetable of six to eight weeks.
Machado, who will get a second opinion, will go the rest-and-rehab route and be reevaluated in four weeks, which should allow time for a minor surgical procedure if things aren't moving along. He's expected to be ready in time for Spring Training.
"That [ACL] was our concern, but the doctors have said that it's a torn medial patellofemoral ligament, and from what I understand, that's good news. It's the type of injury where you can treat it conservatively and our plan would be to treat it conservatively and see how Manny recovers from that," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a news conference attended by manager Buck Showalter and head athletic trainer Richie Bancells.
"If everything falls into place like we think, this is something he could recover from with rest. He would be out for the rest of the season, but he'd be able to come back and play next year."
Machado was at Camden Yards on Tuesday, but was not made available to the media. The youngster had started every game at third base for the Orioles since his debut Aug. 9, 2012, and the knee issue isn't completely foreign for Machado, who hyperextended his left kneecap two years ago in the Minor Leagues. But it is good news, with the MPF a small ligament located on the inside of the kneecap that Bancells said keeps the knee from dislocating laterally.
"So his knee was in a position that his patella slid laterally, putting pressure on that ligament and causing it to tear," Bancells said. "The plan is to have him back here with Dr. [John] Wilckens in four weeks to see what the progress is. All in all, if that continues on a conservative path, that would be six to eight weeks before he could start to do more functional things like start light running. … If the conservative method works, he's ready for Spring Training."
If not, Machado could undergo surgery which would still leave him time to be ready by mid-March. Bancells said that's why he will be reexamined in four weeks, with the range of motion slowly coming back and the swelling subsiding the first part of the healing process. The injury is fairly common in young athletes and given Machado's age, it's not completely out of nowhere.
It is a sigh of relief for the organization, with the Orioles and Rays dugouts -- along with other members of the baseball world -- speculating about the extent of serious ligament damage given the gruesome nature of Monday's injury, which ended with Machado being taken off the field on a stretcher. The injury occurred when the 21-year-old hit a one-out single in the seventh inning Monday against the Rays. His left leg hit the first-base bag awkwardly, causing him to immediately fall down, writhing in pain.
First-base coach Wayne Kirby signaled for O's trainers, and Machado stayed on the ground, screaming. The Rays' team physician, Koco Eaton, also came out to look over Machado before the group gingerly placed him on the stretcher.
"I probably owe an apology to the Tampa people, I probably jumped the gun a little bit emotionally yesterday," said Showalter, who wasn't pleased to get a grim early diagnosis before tests were conducted. "They do a great job there. All these clubs do. MLB does a great job of trying to put things in place that makes it easier to evaluate and the safety of everyone. We got a lot of help from them. I just don't like to speculate, when somebody… I probably overreacted with that a little bit."