With the Baltimore Orioles still mathematically in the hunt for a postseason berth, we baseball fans can easily take an injury such as Manny Machado's ligament tear in his left knee and simply wonder who will play his position for the rest of season. We may also even wonder if the Orioles can make it through or even into the postseason without him. Long-term questions may include if/when Machado will return to action in 2014. We are certain he will play again next year, but will he return in time for Spring Training? Initial indications say, "Yes."
Our own Darius Austin reported Tuesday afternoon that Machado's MRI showed that he has no structural damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial collateral ligament (MCL), which could have devistated his chances to return by the start of next season. MLB.com's Orioles beat writer Brittany Ghiroli tweeted the news to Orioles fans.
To recap, Machado has a torn medial patellar ligament. Considered good news. Sidelined 6-8 weeks. No ACL or MCL damage.
— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) September 24, 2013
The ACL connects the upper and lower leg bones, and it keeps the knee stable. The MCL connects the thigh bone to the lower leg. It also keeps the knee from hyperextending or bending inward. The way Machado hit the first base bag may have brought questions about either of these two ligaments tearing. Damage to either of these ligaments could have meant bad news for Machado and the Orioles.
Ghiroli reports that the tear is to Machado's patellofemoral ligament, which keeps the patella in the center of the knee. WebMD.com says that repairing this ligament can actually make the knee more stable. Machado will rest and rehabilitate the knee first and try to avoid surgery. As Ghiroli reports, he will need six to eight weeks before he can begin workouts and baseball activities.
Machado will wait about four weeks, and if necessary, he may opt to have the surgery, a fairly minor process. This could take his total estimated recovery time (assuming no further setbacks) closer to Spring Training, which starts in mid-February. Orioles head athletic trainer Richie Bansells says that Machado "doesn't need to be ready until mid-March," so Machado has plenty of time.
Ghiroli also states that Machado had hyperextended the same knee two years ago in the Minors, so he has experience in recovering from a knee injury. This will help him make wise decisions in his rehabilitation.
Machado had not missed a game at third base since his MLB debut on August 9, 2012, until Tuesday night. At age 23, he still has a long career ahead of him, and he is young enough to make a full recovery from his injury. It appears that he will be ready for Spring Training 2014. Orioles fans can breathe a huge sigh of relief.
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