TORONTO – Stuck in Sarasota, Fla., since the beginning of spring training while recovering from offseason surgery on his left knee, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will take a major step in his comeback Friday, when he is scheduled to begin a minor league rehab assignment at High-A Frederick.
Machado, 21, played in his third extended spring training game on Tuesday, and he is scheduled to play seven innings at third base Wednesday in Sarasota before traveling north on Thursday.
The Orioles will have a 20-day window to keep Machado on a rehab assignment, but it’s unclear whether he will need that entire time before he is able to rejoin the club.
Orioles vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson, as well as player development director Brian Graham and minor league infield coordinator Dave Anderson will all supervise Machado’s progress during his rehab assignment, and the club will lean on their assessments regarding when Machado is ready to return.
While Machado will begin his rehab assignment in Frederick, it appears that he will move to higher affiliates quickly if he progresses well through his first few games. The Orioles want to see Machado play at a level comparable to what he will see when he returns to the major leagues.
Triple-A Norfolk plays eight straight games at home starting Saturday, while Double-A Bowie plays at Harrisburg over the weekend before opening a four-game series in Richmond. Both of those road cities are closer to Baltimore than Norfolk.
“Our plan is for him to start playing [at Frederick], and then see what his needs are,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Tuesday before the Orioles played the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. “Brady and Brian Graham and Dave Anderson are all going to be there. [We will] kind of lean on them and Manny, but after the first two or three days see. … We will see what his needs are competition-wise.”