Padres might be able to avoid huge setback with Manny Machado

Jun 15, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado (13) looks on from the dugout in the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 15, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado (13) looks on from the dugout in the eighth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Padres might not have to put Manny Machado on the Injured List

If the San Diego Padres can avoid putting Manny Machado on the Injured List, it will be nothing short of a miracle.

On Sunday, their superstar infielder sprained his left ankle trying to beat out an infield grounder, falling to the ground in agony. Seeing him need help leaving the field, everyone feared the worst. Even with his X-rays negative, as the Padres revealed later that day, what they called a sprain could sideline him for weeks.

The team is already scraping by offensively without Fernando Tatis Jr., but it’s hard to see them remaining atop the NL West without Machado, too.

Thankfully, they might not have to.

According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Tribune, Machado’s ankle area is “black and blue” but he’s “walking perfectly normally.” The Padres are hoping to avoid an IL stint altogether, with acting manager Ryan Flaherty saying “there’s pretty good optimism” he can avoid being officially placed on the list.

Machado sat out Monday’s game, with Ha-Seong Kim taking over at third and the newly-recalled CJ Abrams filling in at shortstop. A much-needed win over the Arizona Diamondbacks put the Padres back in a tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in the division.

It’s astoundingly impressive that the Padres have managed to do so well without Tatis. Many players have stepped up, but none more than Machado. Over his first 66 games, he’s hit .328/.400/.545 with a .945 OPS, 17 doubles, 12 home runs, 48 runs scored, and 46 driven in. When he exited Sunday’s game, he was MLB’s leader in WAR and Win Probability Addded, and ranked in the top three in almost every offensive category for NL batters.

The Padres beat the Diamondbacks without Machado on Monday night, but playing without him is unsustainable. Hopefully, they won’t have to keep their heads above water for too long.