Orioles third baseman Manny Machado has taken another step on his surgically repaired left knee toward being ready to play on opening day.
A great, big step.
Machado received positive news today after having the knee examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. He's considered "way ahead of schedule," according to one member of the organization. Another estimation places him at six-to-eight weeks.
Machado, 21, still hasn't been cleared for baseball activities, but it's a mere formality at this point. He's scheduled to visit ElAttrache again on Jan. 31 for the final dynamic functional testing, at which point he should be given the green light.
Machado underwent surgery on Oct. 13 after the knee buckled for a second time during a Sept. 23 game against the Rays at Tropicana Field that left him writhing in pain on the turf. The estimated recovery time was set at approximately six months.
The 75-minute procedure included an arthroscopy and open reconstruction of the medial patellar femoral ligament. A hamstring tendon was used to graft a replacement for the ruptured ligament.
Fortunately for Machado, an MRI didn't reveal any damage to the ACL or MCL.
Machado didn't attend this week's mini-camp because of his appointment with ElAttrache, but he will report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex early next month.
In his first full season in the majors, Machado batted .283/.314/.432 with 51 doubles, three triples, 14 homers and 71 RBIs. He was chosen to the American League All-Star team, won a Gold Glove and placed ninth in Most Valuable Player voting.
Also, the Orioles reached agreement with pitcher Bud Norris on a one-year deal, according to a team official, which leaves them with five arbitration-eligible players. You can read more here.