Manny Machado could start a rehab assignment next week

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MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli reports that Orioles third baseman Manny Machado could begin a rehab assignment next week. And Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes that Machado will play third base in an extended spring training game on Saturday. It’s great news for the Orioles, who have been without their star third baseman but may soon see his return as soon as early May.

In recent days, Machado has batted in simulated games, done wind sprints, and ran the bases — all necessary steps for Machado, who ruptured his left medial patellofemoral ligament last September.

In Machado’s absence, the Orioles have relied on 22-year-old prospect Jonathan Schoop at third base. Schoop, however, has struggled at the dish, entering Friday night’s action with a .244/.244/.415 line. Ryan Flaherty has also started a few games at the hot corner, but has produced a paltry .469 OPS.

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Cubs acquire Martín Maldonado from the Royals

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Last night Cubs catcher Willson Contreras was placed on the injured list with a strained muscle in his right foot. That injury inspired the Cubs to go out and get another catcher. They acquired Martín Maldonado in a trade with Kansas City in exchange for lefty Mike Montgomery, in a deal that was announced after the Cubs loss to the Reds.

Maldonado, 32, was a Gold Glove winner in 2017 with the Angels. At the moment he’s hitting .227 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 74 games. Obviously, though, defense is his calling card, as he’s a .220 career hitter with 57 homers and 210 RBIs in 686 games.

Montgomery, 30, is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in 20 relief appearances for the Cubs this year. He’s heading back to where his pro career began. He was drafted by Kanas City in 2008, though he was traded away in the James Shields/Wade David/Wil Myers deal in 2012. He made his big league debut for Seattle in 2015. Dayton Moore said last night that the Royals plan to use Montgomery in the rotation as a replacement for Homer Bailey, who was dealt to Oakland on Sunday.