SARASOTA, Fla. – Orioles third baseman Manny Machado returned to Sarasota on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles late Thursday night, but it’s still unclear when Machado can return to playing in games.
Dr. Neal ElAttrache, the surgeon who performed Machado's left-knee surgery in October, cleared Machado for all physical activity after examining his left knee on Thursday.
His return is in the Orioles trainers' hands now, but first Machado must resume his baserunning progression that was halted by releasing of scar tissue as a result of the surgery.
“Once his legs are fine, we can insert him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Machado was not at the complex Friday morning because he arrived back in Florida so late.
-- Right-hander Luis Ayala was at the Ed Smith Stadium complex Friday morning, but the Orioles’ minor league deal with the reliever isn’t official yet, Showalter said.
Showalter said Ayala was taking his physical and some additional tests before the deal became complete.
He also added that even though Ayala officially receives a spring training invite, he will report to minor league camp at Twin Lakes Park. With the Orioles already trying to organize its bullpen for Opening Day, Ayala won’t have an opportunity to make the big league team out of camp, Showalter said.
-- Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman missed his scheduled start Friday with an illness, which could alter the upcoming pitching schedule.
“We’re hoping it’s that 24-hour thing we’ve had with a few guys,” Showalter said. “But we’ll see what tomorrow brings. We were actually thinking about allowing him to pitch an inning or two in a day or two when he’s feeling better, hopefully.”
Tillman went five innings in his last start on Saturday – allowing one run on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks against the Yankees – so Showalter is confident missing the assignment won’t affect Tillman as he prepares to be the club’s Opening Day starter on March 31.
“He’s still going to pitch five days from Opening Day," Showalter said. "That will be the priority. If he just takes a couple of strong work days and then makes that start, he had five or six innings last time out, so he’s fine.
-- Utility infielder Alex Gonzalez was back in the starting lineup on Friday, starting at third base and batting ninth after undergoing a precautionary endoscopy and colonoscopy.
Gonzalez said doctors saw something in his spring physical bloodwork that that wanted to get checked up on.
"Everything's fine,” Gonzalez said. “They were looking at the inside of my stomach to see if it's OK and there's nothing serious. I'm back in the lineup. ... I have anemia. They made sure everything's OK on the inside of my stomach. They looked around and recommended iron pills to take and I feel good, I feel fine. Back to playing."
Gonzalez, who is battling for a reserve infielder spot, hadn’t played since Saturday.
“It’s not an injury. It’s nothing to worry [about]," he said. "I think you have to take care of your health first. But now I feel good. I’m back to playing. I missed yesterday’s game, but it was early in the morning. I couldn’t sleep. They made me lay down for a couple hours.”
Gonzalez said he hadn’t felt any other symptoms of anemia. He said he had some stomach issues, including gastritis, earlier in his career, but this was the first time he tested for a lower amount of iron in his blood.
“I was in Venezuela playing [winter ball] every day until the signing,” Gonzalez said. “I came here to spring training, getting up early and afternoon. Obviously, you can feel tired, but I don’t feel like it’s something where I don’t want to come to the field. I think it’s tiring for everybody [this late in spring]. Everybody is kind of tired.”
The 37-year-old Gonzalez entered Friday’s game hitting .435 with two homers and six RBIs this spring.