Manny Machado is back seven months after knee surgery

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Orioles are expected to activate Manny Machado from the disabled list for tonight’s game in Baltimore, assuming bad weather doesn’t postpone things.

He’s been out since suffering a season-ending knee injury on September 23 that required surgery, but Machado went 8-for-12 with five extra-base hits in three games while rehabbing in the minors, including 4-for-4 with two doubles Sunday. So his bat certainly looks ready to go.

Before the injury Machado had a fantastic age-20 season, hitting .283 with 14 homers and a league-leading 51 doubles while playing Gold Glove defense at third base. He made the All-Star team and cracked the top 10 in Wins Above Replacement among AL players. And now hopefully he’s ready to pick up where he left off after missing just six games last season and 24 games this season, which in terms of missed time for a major knee injury is just about the best-case scenario.

Orioles third basemen–Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop basically splitting time–have hit just .213 with one homer and a .565 OPS subbing for Machado this season, so even if Machado is a little rusty he figures to provide a big boost.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.