SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will visit Dr. Neal ElAttrache on March 18, but he hopes to begin sliding before he's re-evaluated and potentially cleared to begin playing in games.
Overall, Machado continues to be pleased with his progress as he works his way back from offseason surgery on his left knee. He passed an important checkpoint Thursday, when he ran the bases and landed on the bag with each foot, and sliding will be his next major rehab milestone.
"I think things have been going great. Everything's been going smooth and I haven't had any complaints," Machado said. "The whole offseason, it's been smooth. It's been a smooth ride. ... It's been going great. I'm happy with everything, how it's panning out so far. Just keep taking it day by day."
Machado said manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles trainers have emphasized the importance of not rushing too fast through the recovery process. The worst thing that could happen, Machado said, is a swollen knee, pulled hamstring or some other minor tweak that forces him to miss a week or two of valuable rehab time. So far, that hasn't been an issue.
Machado could be cleared for game action when he visits Dr. ElAttrache next week, but that doesn't mean he'll jump right into Grapefruit League games. It would make sense to have the All-Star third baseman start off slower, working in simulated games or Minor League contests before joining the Major League club.
Still, Machado seemed confident that he will play in Grapefruit League games before Spring Training is over.
"I hope so. That's my plan. I hope I get a couple games at least with the team," Machado said. "Even if I'm not going to be ready Opening Day, I hope I can play a couple games. I hope I can. I'm pretty sure that I maybe will. We'll see how I keep feeling this week and the next."
Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.