Manny Machado could join the Orioles as soon as next weekend

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Manny Machado’s road back from knee surgery is almost complete.

Machado is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment tomorrow with High-A Frederick, but Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun hears that the Orioles are projecting a possible return during their three-game series against the Twins next weekend in Minnesota.

This is a tentative plan, as the Orioles still want to see how Machado responds to playing three games with Frederick. If all goes well, he’ll likely move have one final test in Double-A or Triple-A before joining the big club.

Position players are permitted to spend up to 21 days on a minor league rehab assignment, but Machado has already logged more than 30 at-bats between simulated and extended spring training games. Assuming no issues with his surgically-repaired right knee, he shouldn’t need much time to shake the rust.

Machado, 21, batted .283/.314/.432 with 14 home runs, 51 doubles, and 71 RBI in 156 games last season prior to tearing the medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee in late September. He won his first Gold Glove Award after the season for his excellent defense at the hot corner. The Orioles are hoping that the best is yet to come.

Video: Bryce Harper crushes a home run to the Chase Field concourse

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Aaron Judge may be the talk of the town right now, but let’s not forget some of Major League Baseball’s more established sluggers. Take the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, for instance, who jumped on a full count during the first inning of Saturday’s game and postmarked the ball to the center field concourse in Chase Field.

Harper’s mammoth hit was the first career home run allowed by Diamondbacks’ rookie Anthony Banda. Banda quickly recovered with an inning-ending strikeout to Ryan Zimmerman, but was booted from his big league debut after Harper, Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon combined for a three-run spread in the sixth.

The first-inning homer also served another purpose: it extended Harper’s hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in MLB this season. He’ll need four more games to tie the 19-game streak Royals’ infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield established back in June.

The Nationals currently lead the Diamondbacks 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Chi Chi Gonzalez to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Rangers’ right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is slated for Tommy John surgery, according to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day disabled list back in early April with a partial UCL tear and was working towards a throwing program before getting sidelined with more elbow pain. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the 2018 season while recovering from the surgery.

This is the second straight season that has been derailed for Gonzalez due to injury. The 25-year-old starter pitched just 10 1/3 innings in 2016 after recovering from a torn UCL, and was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to finish out the year after compiling an 8.71 ERA, 7.8 BB/9 and 6.1 SO/9 in three starts with the club. He showed more promise in Triple-A with a 4.70 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 5.9 SO/9 through 24 starts and 138 innings.

It’s a tough blow for the Rangers, who have seen Gonzalez healthy in just one major league season to date. General manager Jon Daniels told reporters that a recent MRI showed signs of weakening in the ligament, which disrupted the team’s plans to have the right-hander stick to a six- to eight-week recovery timetable after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection (via Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). The surgery is expected to take place next week and will put Gonzalez’s earliest return date sometime in September 2018.