Manny Machado dealing with scar tissue in knee, increasingly unlikely for Opening Day

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The Orioles still haven’t ruled out the possibility that third baseman Manny Machado will be ready for Opening Day, but it’s increasingly likely that he will begin the season on the disabled list.

Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports that Machado has been unable to run for the past five days due to scar tissue in his surgically-repaired left knee. It’s not a serious setback, as he’s able to do everything else besides running. However, a check-up with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, which was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, will not happen until he’s able to resume running. In other words, he’s not close to game action yet.

“There’s no sense in doing that [appointment] until he can really show them what he can do running,” manager Buck Showalter said of Machado’s final evaluation, which would give him the green-light to play spring games. “So, that’s got to get cleared up first, where he’s back running again. And then he can completely clear him again. I heard from Manny [operating surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache has] got a vacation home in Naples, so we are trying to hook that up. Anything to avoid having to go to the west coast, but if that’s what we have to do that that’s what we have to do.

While it would be great to see Machado be in the Orioles’ lineup on Opening Day, the calendar is working against him. Besides, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he needs the first week or two of the season to get back to 100 percent and shake the rust in some minor league games. Given his importance to the Orioles’ future, there’s no need to rush things.

As Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com notes, the Orioles could go with Ryan Flaherty at third base and prospect Jonathan Schoop at second base if Machado misses the start of the season.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.