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Manny Machado injury: Orioles third baseman could return next weekend

Machado will begin a minor league rehab assignment on Friday.

Patrick Smith

Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will begin a rehab assignment at High-A Frederick on Friday, according to The Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina. If things go well, the 21-year-old could return to the majors as soon as next weekend.

Machado, 2013's American League Gold Glove winner at third base, had surgery on his left knee after an in-game injury last season.

He will be reassessed by the club's medical staff after three games in High-A, Friday through Sunday. The team can keep Machado on assignment for 20 days, but Encina reports that the "Orioles won't likely utilize that entire time."

The 's have been leaning on rookie Jonathan Schoop (pronounced "scope," apparently) and Ryan Flaherty. Both players have struggled at the plate, posting sub-.300 on-base percentages -- though Schoop is slugging an admirable .449.

Machado's return will likely manifest at the top of the Orioles' batting order. He logged all 710 of his plate appearances in 2013 while batting first or second. If he approaches the .289/.313/.432 batting line he posted last season, he'll be a huge upgrade for the Orioles -- especially considering his award-winning defensive divination.