BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles and Manny Machado couldn’t have asked for a much better diagnosis on his injured left knee: The third baseman avoided tearing any major ligaments and could be running in six to eight weeks without surgery.
An MRI on Tuesday revealed Machado has a torn medial patellofemoral ligament. He will rest the knee until the swelling subsides and then go through a light rehabilitative program.
“The MCL is fine, the ACL is fine,” Orioles head trainer Richie Bancells said. “All those major ligaments are fine. This is a smaller ligament.”
The injury occurred Monday during Baltimore’s game at Tampa Bay. Machado was running out a single and stepped awkwardly on the inside of the base. He tumbled to the ground and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.
The Orioles feared Machado tore his ACL, which would have kept him sidelined into the 2014 season.
“I was relieved because it’s a good report,” said Dan Duquette, executive vice president of baseball operations. “If everything falls into place like we think, this is something he could recover from with rest. Of course, he’s out for the rest of the season, but he will be able to come back and play next year.”
The 21-year-old Machado had played in every game this season and was an integral part of team’s success. He’s batting .283 with 14 homers, 71 RBIs and 51 doubles.
Machado’s teammates were horrified when he fell to the ground Monday.
“To see a kid that young to go through what he went through at the end of such a phenomenal season, my heart broke for him,” second baseman Brian Roberts said. “He’ll be back 100 percent, no doubt in my mind. Coming back, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Certainly, he’s got age of his side. He’s got a lot of great things going for him, and hopefully he comes back better than he’s ever been. At the time, though, it was demoralizing for all of us.”
The news that the injury was far less severe than expected was met with relief in the clubhouse and throughout the organization. Machado, a former No. 1 draft pick, has been an integral part in the Orioles’ high quality of play over the past two seasons.
“It’s good news for the clubhouse,” manager Buck Showalter said. “As much for the person as what it means. They all have really come to respect Manny and the way he carries himself.”
Machado has earned the respect of those from other teams by the way he carries himself on the field.
“A guy like him, everything he does is right,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “The approach to the game, the effort he gives. He’s in a different category.”