Manny Machado runs sprints, nears rehab assignment

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado ran sprints yesterday for the first time since October knee surgery, going 90 feet six times.

Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports that the next step will be sprinting 180 feet, followed by actually running the bases and making sharp turns on the surgically repaired left knee.

Machado underwent surgery six months ago, putting a premature and sad end to a breakout season at age 20, and there’s no official timetable yet for his return. Once he’s cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment a 20-day clock will start ticking, although the Orioles would be free to call him up at any time.

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Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.