Machado undergoes surgery, hopeful to return by Opening Day

October 4th, 2023

SAN DIEGO -- Padres star third baseman underwent elbow surgery on Tuesday with the team hopeful that he'll be able to return by the start of the 2024 season.

The operation -- a right elbow extensor tendon repair -- had been planned for weeks. Machado has played through tennis elbow in his right arm for parts of the past two seasons, but that injury worsened down the stretch in 2023 and forced him into a DH role, while he missed time on multiple occasions.

"We were trying to avoid it as much as we can," Machado said of the surgery in mid-September. "But unfortunately [the injury] has just put us in that situation. And you know what? It's probably going to make me better, going to make us all better. Just get it done, get ready for next year, come back and be healthy."

The team offered a recovery timetable of 4-6 months, which puts Machado's return sometime around Spring Training or the start of the 2024 season. The Padres open their '24 campaign with two games against the Dodgers in Seoul, South Korea, on March 20 and 21.

Team officials have noted that recovery from the surgery takes longer on the throwing side than hitting. So it's possible Machado begins 2024 in the same DH role in which he finished the 2023 season while he continues to build up his throwing arm.

While battling the injury, Machado posted a .258/.319/.462 slash line with 30 homers. His .781 OPS was his lowest in his five seasons with the Padres, who missed the playoffs after finishing the season 82-80.

Machado could've opted for surgery late in the season, but he insisted on playing through the injury while the Padres were mathematically alive in the playoff race. It's possible that delay could cost Machado time at the start of 2024. But he made the decision to keep playing -- and, as it turned out, the Padres took their slim playoff hopes all the way to the final weekend, missing out by two games.

“That’s what he’s done all his career,” Fernando Tatis Jr. said recently. “That’s the part people don’t see from the outside. They don’t know the sacrifice that this guy’s been making over here. … That’s why he’s been one of the greatest that has played this game. That’s one of the things that you can add to the list.”

Machado will be entering the second year of an 11-year extension he signed prior to the 2023 season. He needs 25 home runs -- a mark he has reached in each of his full seasons in San Diego -- to equal Nate Colbert’s franchise record of 163.