Third baseman will undergo procedure next week; recovery time is 4-6 months
CHICAGO -- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will undergo season-ending surgery on his medial patellofemoral ligament (MPFL) in his right knee in the next week, a procedure that will repair the torn ligament and that is the same surgery performed on his left knee last year.
"Manny came to us yesterday and said his knee wasn't responding to the rest," said Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, "and that he had conferred with his doctors, and after that conference, he decided that the best course of action would be to take a look at the option of surgery."
The loss is a huge hit to a first-place club already without catcher Matt Wieters (Tommy John surgery), making Machado the club's second All-Star to hit the DL for good this season.
Machado, who suffered the newest injury in an at-bat on August 11 at Camden Yards, hit the first-base bag awkwardly last September against the Rays at Tropicana Field and had season-ending surgery on his left knee.
"From the get-go, we knew it was partially torn, so [surgery] was in the back of my mind," said Machado, who had an MRI the next day. "Obviously, with the position we're in now, you don't want to hear about surgery. You want to try to get back out there on the field and be back with the team and help the team get to the playoffs and continue with my season, but it's been a couple weeks now, and the pain hasn't gotten any better, so I think it was just the best decision to get it done now rather than later and wait like we did last year. I think it got to the point where I just had to make a decision."
Machado, who is still waiting to hear on an exact surgery date, will undergo the procedure in Los Angeles, and it will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed his left knee surgery in 2013. The recovery timetable is expected to be about the same -- 4-6 months. The only difference between this year's injury and what he did in September is that the ligament was ruptured in that case.
"The hope was because it was [a] partial [tear on the right side], that it wasn't as severe. The hope was that it would scar down, and we'd be able to get [Machado] back and see how it we went," head athletic trainer Richie Bancells said. "That, in combination with Dr. ElAttrache had always mentioned there was a risk, just given the way that Manny is structured physically, predisposes him to that kind of injury. There was always that risk.
"Dr. ElAttrache told me that we don't know if that risk is next week, next month, next year, two years, you don't know. It was inevitable. The combination of the risk factor, along with Manny didn't feel like it was coming along like he hoped right now, and he had a conversation with Dr. ElAttrache that he decided to go ahead and have the surgery."
Machado said one of the reasons he has sustained these injuries is that he has abnormal knees. With the surgeries, he wants to take care of the issue for good, so it won't be an issue later in his career.
"Obviously, it's August already and if we keep waiting, its just going to make it worse and we're not going to be ready for Spring Training next year," said Machado, who missed the first month of the season this year rehabbing. "I think that's a big part."
Machado, who has traveled with the team while he tried to recover from the latest injury, said his knee hasn't felt any better in the 11 days since the incident occurred. Could he have waited a little bit longer and given the rehab route more time?
"I could have waited," Machado said. "It's been 11 days, 12 days now, and not one little sign of it getting better. So, why keep waiting and lose time for next year? Obviously, we're thinking about this year and not next year, but at the same time, it wasn't getting any better. There wasn't anything we could do. The only thing was going in there and fixing it. It's just something that it wasn't getting any better at all."
A Platinum Gold Glove Award winner in his first full season in 2013, Machado was a huge part of the Orioles' playoff run in '12, and his presence on both sides of the field will be missed. In his absence, the O's have played Ryan Flaherty and Chris Davis at third base, with Davis getting the bulk of the time lately, given Steve Pearce's hot stretch. Pearce has played first base, and Showalter has shifted Davis to third to keep everyone involved.
Will the Orioles look outside of the organization to add an infielder?
"There's a very limited pool of players that are available this time of the year, because a lot of players' contracts don't get through the trade waiver process," Duquette said. "So it's a very limited pool, but I think we have some pretty good depth in-house, and we've had some players step up like Steve Pearce and do a good job, and we're going to continue to need players to step up in this situation."
Asked if Wieters' season-ending surgery gave the Orioles confidence that they could withstand the loss of Machado, manager Buck Showalter said: "It's just reality. I don't know if it's confidence. It's just reality. What are you going to do? Say 'Stop? I want to get off?' There's another game today, another game tomorrow. This game has a strange way of finding unexpected heroes, so to speak. It's another opportunity that opens up for somebody, is the way I'd look at it."