Last we heard, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was making solid progress in his recovery from left knee surgery, but it’s still unclear when he’ll be ready for game action.
Per Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, Machado has resumed taking batting practice and fielding ground balls, but he isn’t running full speed and he’s restricted from doing certain drills. The 21-year-old hopes to be cleared for full baseball activities when he has a check-up with his surgeon in mid-March, but that obviously leaves little time to test himself in game action before Opening Day. However, rushing things just to be ready for the start of the season doesn’t rank high on Machado’s priority list.
“Last,” he said. “That’s at the bottom of my list. It’s not even on my list, to be honest.”
“When I’m ready, I’m going to be ready,” Machado said. “And everybody’s going to know it. And that’s when I’m going to be out there with the team, whether it’s Opening Day or sometime in April.”
Machado hit .283/.314/.432 with 14 home runs and 71 RBI over 156 games last season prior to tearing the medial patellofemoral ligament in his knee.
For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:
The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).
It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: