Thanks to elbow surgery that was postponed as the San Diego Padres chased their slim postseason hopes, the 2024 season may start like the 2023 campaign ended when it comes to Manny Machado and his availability.
As was reported on Tuesday, an operation to repair a right elbow extensor tendon was performed on Machado. With that, the countdown for Machado to be ready for the 2024 season opener (March 20 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Seoul, South Korea) has begun ... and it's a tight timeline for the All-Star third baseman to return to the team 100 percent healthy.
What Manny Machado's surgery means for the 2024 San Diego Padres
Certainly the hope is that the surgery helps Machado get back to 100 percent, something that was clear he was not during a campaign where his .781 OPS was the lowest mark he had posted in his five seasons in San Diego. However, with a recovery timeline of four to six months, that hope for Machado to be fully back by the time the Padres and Dodgers meet in South Korea is tenuous at best.
There is a thought that, if all goes well in the recovery, Machado could begin 2024 as the team's designated hitter, a role he served in as the 2023 season wound down. Machado at DH would at least give the Padres that option to have him in the lineup as he works on regaining strength in the throwing arm to once again take his place at the hot corner.
That's the best-case scenario. On the flip side, the Padres will return from Korea and have roughly a week until their next regular-season games (San Diego's home opener is March 28 against the San Francisco Giants), so Machado being unavailable for a pair of games early would not be ideal, but also understandable in the grand scheme of the season.
Machado's decision to postpone surgery could put a dent in his 2024 season. However, in the overall equation, if all goes well, the small dent could be worth it for an improved key piece of San Diego's success next year.