Great news came out of Baltimore Saturday: Manny Machado said he is fully cleared for spring training.
Manny Machado said he is fully cleared for spring training and "ready to play some baseball." #Orioles— Luke Jones (@BaltimoreLuke) January 31, 2015
Steve Melewski added,
Machado has been taking part in full baseball activities for several weeks now, after surgery on Aug. 27 to repair a partial tear of a ligament in his right knee. He underwent a similar procedure on his left knee in 2013.
"Ready to roll," Machado said earlier today at FanFest. "Ready to play some baseball. I've been running, hitting, whatever I have to do to get ready.
"I have a lot of time to get ready. That is the key: having a regular offseason. Was doing my rehab in Sarasota and then went to Miami to do my regular weightlifting and get ready for the season. Been exciting. Looking forward to spring training."
Machado said it will be important to have a normal and full spring training this season after he didn't play at all last year in camp.
"Spring training is key for a lot of players to get your at-bats and your reps. I think some take it for granted, but it's a very big key for success for the year."
Machado being ready in time for spring training is a huge positive. He missed the entire spring last year and only played in three rehab games before being thrown back onto the field against MLB pitching. Because of the limited reps, Machado had a horrific opening to his season, slashing .220/.271/.284 with a 56 wRC+ in his first full month back in the big leagues.
Once Machado shook the rust off, he produced like an All Star. In 235 PA after his first month back, Machado hit .307/.350/.505 with 10 HR and a 139 wRC+.
These endpoints are a little arbitrary because we don't know exactly when he began to get his timing back, but it's a good visual of how stark the difference in production was for Machado once he re-adapted to MLB pitching. Getting a full spring training's worth of reps will put Machado in a much better position to succeed right away in 2015 instead of enduring a month's worth of ironing out the wrinkles.
Machado's best days offensively are in front of him. He hits in a terrific hitter's park and hitter's division in the AL East and is still just 22 years old. He's a future fantasy baseball star with the bat. Owners in keeper or dynasty leagues should try to scoop him up now while his value is likely at the lowest point it will be for a long time.