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Machado 'just trying to get ready as fast as I can'

Third baseman taking it day by day in rehab, won't set timetable for return

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Manny Machado said he never wanted to mark any specific dates on the calendar or set any deadlines for his return to the field, so he didn't want to make too much of manager Buck Showalter's announcement that the All-Star third baseman won't be with the Orioles on Opening Day.

Machado said he is content to continue playing out the rehabilitation process and hopes to get back on the field in extended spring games within two weeks.

Showalter announced Sunday that Machado, 21, will begin the season on the 15-day disabled list as he continues to recover from offseason surgery on his left knee. Machado is a little more than five months removed from the Oct. 14 operation and admitted that being in the Orioles' Opening Day lineup would have been a "long shot."

"I wasn't even thinking about [being ready by a certain date.] Honestly, I didn't really care," Machado said Monday. "I was just trying to get ready as fast as I can. Fortunately, we've been pretty good, but not there yet. So I want to be 110 percent before I get out there, and that's what I'm going to do.

"Nope. Nope. Never will [set a deadline.] That's not me. I take it day by day. Whenever that day is, I'm going to tell Buck, 'Hey, I'm ready.' He knows. He knows how it is. It could be three days into the season or it could be two months. We really don't know. It depends on how I feel at the plate and how I feel playing and sliding and playing the game hard. I'm not going to go out there and baby it."

Machado has had to ease up on his rehab lately as he deals with a calf strain related to the scar tissue breaking up in his surgically repaired knee. Machado has resumed running on the field, albeit with some occasional "aggravating pain," and he will continue to increase his workload after being cleared for all baseball activities by Dr. Neal ElAttrache on Thursday.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Machado still has to clear some hurdles with his running before he can start playing in games. Machado will then need to take at least 50 at-bats before he's ready to return to the Majors. Duquette said he hopes Machado will play for the Orioles at some point in April.

"The calendar really drove the decision [to officially rule out Opening Day]," Duquette said. "These things take a little time. ... Opening Day would have been nice, but it's really driven by how Manny responds and meets these thresholds that he has to meet as he progresses back to being an everyday ballplayer."

Showalter stressed Sunday that he made the announcement in large part to ease some of the pressure on Machado, to set his focus solely on getting healthy for the rest of the season, not Opening Day. Considering the way Machado spoke Monday, it may have been an unnecessary reminder for the young All-Star.

"The only thing I care about is being healthy, whether it was Opening Day or two weeks from now in extended games or even [Minor League rehab games with Double-A] Bowie or wherever I'm at," Machado said. "My knee's fine, so that's the only good thing. We'll see where it takes us, see where it goes."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

Baltimore Orioles, Manny Machado