Latest Manny Machado injury update casts doubt on his Opening Day availability

Manny Machado's recovery is going well, but he still might not be ready to start the season.

San Diego Padres v Oakland Athletics
San Diego Padres v Oakland Athletics / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

One of the big uncertainties for the San Diego Padres ahead of the start of the 2024 season is the status of Manny Machado. Machado had a down year in 2023 that was largely driven by issues with his elbow that ultimately required surgery.

When Machado is right, he is one of the absolute best players in all of baseball. He is a perennial Gold Glover and MVP candidate with a skill set that makes him a threat any time he takes the field. That was why it was so alarming that he only managed to post a .782 OPS last season (which is still fine, but low for him) and why there's plenty of optimism he could have a special season in 2024 now that his elbow has been cleaned up.

The problem, of course, is that even though his elbow procedure seems to have been relatively minor, it is still a surgery that requires time to recover. There has been a lot of speculation that he might not be ready to take the field by Opening Day. When Machado was asked about his recovery as spring training opened up, his response was a healthy mix of cautious optimism and being realistic about his chances for being ready to go.

Manny Machado's Opening Day availability remains up in the air for Padres

To be clear, there wasn't any "bad" news that came from Machado's update. He's still hitting the required benchmarks during his recovery without setbacks and he feels good right now. However, Machado was honest in that he's having to stick to being on limits for how much he can swing and throw each day, and that he still has to build his arm back up before he's going to be game ready.

Fortunately, the Padres are one of the few teams that can absorb the loss of a guy of Machado's caliber for a little while. The big league roster is (over)loaded with infielders and San Diego still has guys like Jackson Merrill and Graham Pauley that could fit into the equation as well if the need arises.

In short, there's no need to rush Machado back to the field for Opening Day. Would it be nice? Of course it would be be. Machado is a six time All-Star that could very well get inducted into Cooperstown one day. Any team would want on the field every day.

However, it's more important that Machado heals up completely and gets back to the business of being one of the league's superstars instead of pushing it so that can start Opening Day, only to potentially hurt him and the team in the long run.

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