Manny Machado opts to have surgery on knee ligament

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The early word was that Manny Machado wouldn’t need surgery after his scary knee injury with a week left in the season, but he has decided to go ahead and have reconstructive surgery on his MPFL, which will sideline him for 4-6 months.

The medial patellofemoral ligament, which stabilizes the kneecap, was damaged when Machado suffered a dislocated patella awkwardly stepping on the bag at first base. Machado could have come back without the surgery, but this will reduce the chances of future dislocations.

The news makes Machado iffy for the start of spring training, but he should still be ready for Opening Day if everything goes well.

The 21-year-old Machado hit .283/.314/.432 with 51 doubles and 14 homers in 156 games before going down this year. He’s likely to be announced as the AL’s Gold Glove third baseman for his spectacular play at the hot corner.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.