Manny Machado dealing with scar tissue in knee, increasingly unlikely for Opening Day

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The Orioles still haven’t ruled out the possibility that third baseman Manny Machado will be ready for Opening Day, but it’s increasingly likely that he will begin the season on the disabled list.

Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports that Machado has been unable to run for the past five days due to scar tissue in his surgically-repaired left knee. It’s not a serious setback, as he’s able to do everything else besides running. However, a check-up with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, which was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, will not happen until he’s able to resume running. In other words, he’s not close to game action yet.

“There’s no sense in doing that [appointment] until he can really show them what he can do running,” manager Buck Showalter said of Machado’s final evaluation, which would give him the green-light to play spring games. “So, that’s got to get cleared up first, where he’s back running again. And then he can completely clear him again. I heard from Manny [operating surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache has] got a vacation home in Naples, so we are trying to hook that up. Anything to avoid having to go to the west coast, but if that’s what we have to do that that’s what we have to do.

While it would be great to see Machado be in the Orioles’ lineup on Opening Day, the calendar is working against him. Besides, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he needs the first week or two of the season to get back to 100 percent and shake the rust in some minor league games. Given his importance to the Orioles’ future, there’s no need to rush things.

As Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com notes, the Orioles could go with Ryan Flaherty at third base and prospect Jonathan Schoop at second base if Machado misses the start of the season.

Report: Pirates to convert JB Shuck into two-way player

JB Shuck
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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.

Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.

Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.

Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.