With Manny Machado coming along slowly, it is still not 100-percent certain he will be able to start at third for the Orioles this year. While that might be upsetting, let’s not forget this kid is only 21, and we don’t want the O’s to rush his recovery.
So, if he’s not ready, who would play third?
One option is Ryan Flaherty. Flaherty has the talent to play multiple infield positions as well as outfield, so he can fill in just about wherever. Last year with the Orioles, Flaherty found playing time at second base, shortstop, third base, first base, and also as a designated hitter. During the 2012 season, he spent some time at third, first, left field and right field.
Last year, Flaherty played in 85 games and amassed 246 at-bats in which he batted .224. He also hit 10 home runs, 11 doubles, and he drove in 27 runs. Offense isn’t necessarily one of his strong suits, but he is solid in the field and gives the O’s some much needed versatility.
Another option is Michael Almanzar, a player the Orioles scooped up from the Red Sox in the Rule 5 draft in December. Almanzar spent his 2013 season in AA Portland where he batted .268 with 16 HR and 81 runs batted-in, so he does have some pop in his bat.
As for Machado, according to MASN, he is not allowed to run the bases or slide yet, but he has been cleared for everything else. He is hoping to be cleared for games by mid-March, but the Orioles will be taking his recovery slow, and they should. The last thing they need is to rush back one of the best third basemen in the game only to have him re-injure himself. While there is a significant gap between Machado and any replacement, it would still be best if he takes his time coming back to ensure he is 100-percent healthy.
by Andy Mindzak