Manny Machado to hit in simulated game today

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There’s no clear timetable for Manny Machado to rejoin the Orioles, but he’s about to take a step forward in his rehab from knee surgery.

According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, Machado will take two at-bats today in a simulated game against rehabbing left-hander Johan Santana. These will be his first at-bats in a competitive setting since he had the medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee repaired in October.

While this qualifies as progress, Machado hasn’t been cleared to run the bases. That will be the biggest step of all. Once that happens, the Orioles can think about sending him on a minor league rehab assignment. That still sounds a little ways off, though.

The Orioles have used Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty, and Steve Lombardozzi at third base so far this season. They are hitting .189/.189/.324 as a group.

The Royals are paying everyone. Why can’t all of the other teams?

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Over the past several weeks we’ve heard a lot of news about teams furloughing front office and scouting staff, leveling pay cuts for those who remain and, most recently, ceasing stipends to minor league players and releasing them en masse. The message being sent, intentionally or otherwise, is that baseball teams are feeling the pinch.

The Kansas City Royals, however, are a different story.

Jon Heyman reported this afternoon that the Royals are paying their minor leaguers through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended, and unlike so many other teams, they are not releasing players either. Jeff Passan, meanwhile, reports that the Royals will not lay any team employees off or furlough anyone. “Nearly 150 employees will not take pay cuts,” he says, though “higher-level employees will take tiered cuts.” Passan adds that the organization intends to restore the lost pay due to those higher-level employees in the future when revenue ramps back up, making them whole.

While baseball finances are murky at best and opaque in most instances, most people agree that the Royals are one of the lower-revenue franchises in the game. They are also near the bottom as far as franchise value goes. Finally, they have the newest ownership group in all of baseball, which means that the group almost certainly has a lot of debt and very little if any equity in the franchise. Any way you slice it, cashflow is likely tighter in Kansas City than almost anywhere else.

Yet the Royals are paying minor leaguers and front office employees while a great number of other teams are not. What’s their excuse?