Manny Machado cleared for some baseball activities

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Good news for the Orioles. According to ESPN’s Stephania Bell, Manny Machado was cleared for some baseball activities yesterday after he had his surgically-repaired left knee evaluated by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Machado was put through extensive testing, as well as treadmill running, squats, jumps and agility maneuvers. ElAttrache cleared him to hit, field ground balls, and run, but he’ll be eased into more intense game-like situations.

When Machado underwent surgery in October to repair a torn medial patellofemoral ligament, it was believed that he would need 4-6 months of rehab time, but it was reported earlier this month that he was 6-8 weeks ahead of schedule. There’s still no clear timetable for his return and being ready for Opening Day isn’t the end-all and be-all, but things are sounding promising at the moment.

Machado, 21, hit .283/.314/.432 with 14 home runs and 71 RBI over 156 games in his first full season in the majors last year. He won a Gold Glove Award for his defense at third base.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.