Manny Machado plays in first extended spring training game, nears official rehab stint

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Good news for the Orioles, as Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that Manny Machado played in his first extended spring training game this morning.

Machado, who underwent surgery in October to repair a medial patellofemoral ligament in his left knee, played five innings at third base and received four at-bats. He’s scheduled to take the day off tomorrow, but will play seven innings at third base on Monday before serving as the designated hitter on Tuesday. Orioles manager Buck Showalter is hopeful that he’ll be able to begin an official minor league rehab assignment at some point next week, setting up a potential return in early May.

Machado, 21, owns a .279/.309/.435 over his first 207 games in the majors. He won a Gold Glove last season for his exemplary defense at third base. The Orioles have relied on a combination of Jonathan Schoop, Ryan Flaherty, and Steve Lombardozzi at the hot corner so far this year. It goes without saying, but he’s a big upgrade. And we likely haven’t seen the best of him yet from an offensive perspective.

Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife gives birth

Zack Wheeler miss starts
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Per The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, Phillies starter Zack Wheeler will miss at least two starts when his wife goes into labor and gives birth to their first child, expected to be later this month. Wheeler, in fact, is not sure if he will return to play at all once their child is born.

Wheeler said, “We just have to see how things are here at the field and at the stadium. I’m happy with what I see so far. But things could change, especially once our baby’s born. I always think about what’s going on around me. Is it safe? Is it OK? Literally every single day. I have to just ask myself that. I’m going to continue to keep asking myself that every day.”

Wheeler, 30, inked a five-year, $118 million contract with the Phillies in December. He is slated for the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind Aaron Nola. Last season, with the Mets, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 50 walks over 195 1/3 innings.

The No. 5 spot in the Phillies’ rotation is currently up for grabs between Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suárez, and prospect Spencer Howard. One of the remaining three could fill in for Wheeler when he needs time off, temporarily or otherwise.