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.

Athletics and Mariners to begin the 2019 regular season in Tokyo

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Oakland A’s and the Seattle Mariners will begin the 2019 regular season in Japan, in the Tokyo Dome.

The series will mark the third time that the A’s will begin their season in Japan, first doing it in 2008 against the Red Sox and then again in 2012 against the Mariners.

This is just the latest of Major League Baseball’s moves to expand the the game internationally. In addition to those previous series in Japan, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks opened their season in Australia in 2014 and the Dodgers and Padres will play a series in Mexico City this May. There has likewise been talk of the Mets playing a series in London, though those details have not yet been worked out. Obviously the World Baseball Classic represents the league’s effort to broaden the global scope of the once national pastime.

Get ready for early morning baseball, folks.