Report: Manny Machado is 6-8 weeks ahead of schedule from knee surgery

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Opening Day was in doubt after Manny Machado underwent surgery to repair a torn medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee back in October, but there’s now increased optimism that he’ll be ready for the start of the season.

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun hears from a source that things “went well” during Machado’s check-up with Dr. Neal ElAttrache in California today, as the 21-year-old was told that he is 6-8 weeks ahead of schedule. It was originally estimated that he would need 4-6 months of recovery time. He’s currently three months removed from surgery, so the belief is that he’ll be ready for Opening Day if he can avoid setbacks.

Machado hit .283/.314/.432 with 14 home runs and 71 RBI over 156 games during his first full season in the majors last year. He led the American League with 51 doubles and won a Gold Glove Award for his defense at third base. If he can stay healthy, there’s every reason to believe that he can take a step forward offensively and blossom into a star.

Padres acquire Phil Hughes from Twins

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Twins right-hander Phil Hughes is headed to the Padres, according to announcements from both teams on Sunday. The Padres will also receive the 74th overall draft pick and cash considerations from the Twins, who are getting minor league catcher Janigson Villalobos in return. Minnesota is expected to absorb $7.5 million of Hughes’ $22 million contract; per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, they’ll take on his remaining salary for the 2018 season and pay an additional $5.7 million in 2019.

Hughes, 31, is far from the 16-win, sub-4.00 ERA hurler the Twins enjoyed in 2014. He hasn’t pitched more than 60 innings in any season since 2015, due in part to multiple bouts of back stiffness and shoulder surgeries. He was designated for assignment last week after missing significant time with a left oblique strain and delivering a 6.75 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 6.0 SO/9 through his first 12 innings of 2018.

Villalobos, meanwhile, will provide the Twins with some depth as he continues to work his way through the minor league system. The 21-year-old backstop recently completed a circuit with the Padres’ rookie-level affiliate in the Arizona League, slashing .275/.367/.388 with eight extra bases and a .755 OPS in 98 PA.

The real get for the Padres isn’t Hughes (even with much of his salary already accounted for), but the Competitive Balance B selection in next week’s amateur draft. As MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell points out, the club lost their second-round pick after inking Eric Hosmer to a massive eight-year, $144 million deal back in February.