Manny Machado injured his knee on August 11th, 2014. A knee injury that though on the opposite knee was almost identical to the knee injury suffered last year. Interestingly, the Orioles wanted Machado to just rest the knee and try to make a return for the playoffs. Machado however elected to have surgery… wait a minute this is all sounding familiar.
On September 23, 2013 Manny Machado experienced a gruesome knee injury while running to first base. Though the injury initially looked devastating the reports coming right after the injury were very positive. Dan Duquette reported initially that the knee would not require surgery. On September 30th Dr. James Andrew was brought in for a second opinion, and he concurred with Duquette as well as Orioles team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens who recommended rest and a recovery time of 6-8 weeks. Machado was to be reevaluated at the end of October by Orioles doctors.
However that reevaluation never came. On October 10th Machado elected surgery saying "I sent my MRI results to a couple of doctors and knee specialists and we decided that in the long run and for my future as a baseball player, this surgery would be the best plan."
Manny Machado taking the initiative to consult other doctors and deciding on his own to have surgery was just the beginning of an offseason that involved Machado and Orioles organization being on different pages. On October 14th, Machado underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left knee, normal recovery time to be 4-6 months. Six months, the conservative recovery estimate, would have put Machado back in the lineup on April 14th.
Orioles received good news as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported on January 16th that Machado was 6-8 weeks ahead in his recovery. This update would have pushed Machado’s return date up to somewhere around March 1st, in time for Spring Training. Buck Showalter said multiple times that March 15th was the date Manny would need to get back for if he wanted to play on opening day.
In Mid-February Buck Showalter put the onus on Machado to return saying, “For most of this I'm going to rely on Manny. Because we are real close to the point where structurally he's fine.”
Machado, for his part, never discussed dates. It’s also interesting to note that Machado never mentions Orioles doctors or trainers in any of the following quotes (or even the Orioles team for that matter).
In December Machado said of the surgery, “Everything has been good with the surgery, it went well. Obviously I was a little scared, but just trusting my doctors and it's been great so far… Obviously you want to get ready as soon as possible and as quickly as you can, but this type of surgery I kind of try to take it day by day, listen to what my doctors and trainers are saying, don't try to force anything."
On February 16th Machado says, "I want to be perfect when I go out there, I don't want to be out there [halfway], I want to be 110 percent, perfect. Everything I do has to be perfect to go out there and start playing.”
Again Machado refusing to put a timetable on his injury said, “I'm only 3 1/2 months out of surgery, and this takes 4-6 months. ... Once I get out there I'm going to be playing every day. I'm not going to go out there and take a day off here or take a day off there just because my knee is aching or I don't feel right. “
It would be foolish to criticize Machado for refusing to put a timetable on his injury, likewise of course he should only only return when he feels a 100%. Both of these are good things in the long run not only for Manny Machado, but also for the Orioles. However, it is interesting that his responses are all about him and when he’s ready There appears to be no mention of Machado collaborating with Oriole doctors or trainers in determining a return date.
Fast-forward to March 15th Machado had his scheduled check up with his doctor pushed back. Showalter had this to say about the situation: “The way I understand it, [the current issue is] scar tissue that flared up and got a little sore, and we decided not to push it… Which is what we talked about all along -- we are not going to push it to the point where it ends up being something [worse]. We want to resolve this.”
Notice Showalter emphasis on “we”, as if Machado and the Orioles are making decisions together. Not exactly the impression one gets from reading the Machado quotes.
Machado’s check up date was pushed back to March 20th. On the 19th Showalter had this to say (and notice the shift in who controls Machado’s return date and the flippancy in which he regards Machado’s doctor, Dr. ElAttrache).
“If you’re expecting a yea or nay from this doctor tomorrow on Manny, it’s probably not going to happen as far a decision because that decision has already been given to us. Our doctors in Baltimore want him to see [Dr. ElAttrache] one more time. It’s kind of in our hands. This isn’t some check, now you can start doing everything… It’s not like he’s magically going to start playing in games the day he gets back. When [head trainer] Richie [Bancells] and our people feel he’s ready, he’ll play, so this isn’t some get out of jail card he’s going to get.”
The next day, on March 20th Stephanie Bell of ESPN reported that Dr. ElAttrache told ESPN “He (Machado) looks better every time I see him…His kneecap is tracking normally, his muscle girth is almost the same as his opposite leg and his level of function exceeds where we thought he'd be at this point."
Buck Showalter was clearly annoyed that Machado’s doctor went to ESPN instead of the Orioles to provide an update on Machado. The next day on the post game interview Showalter refused to mention Machado’s doctor by name saying that he’ll “let ESPN take care of that”
Machado made his first rehab start on April 24th, and then made it back up to the ball club on April 29th. Though the game was rained out, Machado discussed his return to Baltimore.
"You know what, I really didn't put a date in my mind. I told myself, 'Whenever that day is I feel 100 percent and I'm running down the bases and I feel good on the field, that was going to be the day.' Whether it was today or next week or two weeks from now, never really had a date in the back of my mind. It was just a matter of how I felt."
Again, Machado makes no mention of the Orioles or Oriole’s doctor or Oriole’s head athletic trainer Richie Bancells.
This past week Machado announced once again that he has elected to have surgery. Dan Duquette seemed surprised saying, "Our original approach was to have him rest and then to try to play and then see if he could play ball. We also knew there was a chance of a recurrence. Given this injury and the time of the season, we thought that we would rest it and try to recover and come back and play for the rest of the year. But Manny didn't feel that was the best option.”
Uh oh. Here we go again. Not sure if this has any long term significance, but if you want any updates on Manny Machado’s injury you better go right to Machado or his doctor, Dr. ElAttrache; don’t go to the Orioles because they don’t appear to even be in the loop.