Before speaking for the first time since a season-ending left knee injury, Orioles third baseman Manny Machado hobbled into a pregame news conference Wednesday evening on crutches.
The 21-year-old recounted a whirlwind 48 hours that began with him landing awkwardly on first base and crumpling to the ground in pain Monday in the Tropicana Field infield. He was taken off the field on a stretcher fearing the worst, then found out the good news Tuesday: The injury wasn't as devastating as feared.
"When it first happened, it was a terrifying moment for myself, all the fans and my teammates," Machado said. "Obviously, it wasn't fun. ... My first initial thought was that I'm out for the season. There goes our chances of me trying to help the team trying to make the postseason. ... Then (I thought) after, 'Something happened to my knee.' I really didn't know what it was at the moment. (I) wasn't giving any thought if it was my ACL, or whatever it was."
On Tuesday, Machado learned that all of his major ligaments were fine. He was diagnosed with a tear in a smaller ligament, the medial patellofemoral ligament, by team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens. With a conservative recovery approach, the Orioles believe Machado could be back to light running in six to eight weeks.
Machado said he will get a second opinion Monday but that he was confident in Wilckens' diagnosis. Wilckens treated Machado when he had a similar patella injury in the minor leagues while playing with Low-A Delmarva.
"It's kind of the same thing a little bit," Machado said, comparing the injuries. "Obviously, this is a little more painful, especially at this stage of the year. That just made it just worse."
The Orioles hope that with rest, treatment and rehabilitation, Machado can avoid surgery, but they won't know for sure until he is re-evaluated in four weeks.
"Obviously, it's out there," Machado said of the possibility of surgery. "For now, it's not in the back of my mind. I'm only 21 years old. I'm so young, my ligaments are going to recover faster than a 30-year-old. That's the first step -- just steady rehab and let it strengthen on its own like it has before. ... Hopefully, it keeps getting stronger."
In Tuesday's 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Blue Jays -- the Orioles' sixth straight defeat -- Machado was shown in the Orioles dugout on the ballpark video board, prompting a standing ovation from the Camden Yards crowd.
After a trying stretch, Machado said the support was uplifting.
"It's something that I got goose bumps with it," he said. "I've got to thank all those fans out there. They've supported me throughout the whole year and these last couple days. I just want to give them thanks for being there."
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