Padres 3B Manny Machado (elbow) could be ready for Opening Day

Field Level Media

February 14, 2024 at 1:25 am.

San Diego Padres star third baseman Manny Machado isn’t offering any projections of when he will make season debut. He is just glad his right elbow is progressing well.

Machado underwent surgery on his throwing elbow in early October and it was forecasted he would miss four to six months. He is hopeful he will be able to play when the Padres open the season March 20 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Seoul, South Korea.

“Rehab’s been going amazing,” Machado told reporters Tuesday in Peoria, Ariz. “As of right now, I’m feeling good. No issues with hitting or throwing. It’s just a matter of building up my arm.”

If the arm isn’t ready to throw the ball across the diamond, Machado might be the designated hitter when the season begins.

“No expectations,” Machado said. “It’s just a matter of what my body tells me and how much I can go, how much I can push. At the same time, just being smart about the situation. It’s a long season. As of right now, I’m feeling good.”

San Diego general manager A.J. Preller said the club has been impressed by Machado’s rehab progress.

“He’s hit every checkpoint so far this offseason,” Preller told reporters. “… I know he wants to be ready to go play in Korea. So far he’s tracking towards that.”

Outsiders have put lighter expectations on the Padres this season after they were massive underachievers last season and failed to make the playoffs. The previous season, San Diego lost in the National League Championship Series to the Philadelphia Phillies.

But the Padres cut payroll in the offseason and traded star outfielder Juan Soto to the New York Yankees and allowed closer Josh Hader to depart as a free agent to the Houston Astros. National League Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell remains a free agent but he won’t be returning to San Diego.

“Obviously no one can replace Soto,” Machado said. “He’s the top player in the game. He’s irreplaceable.”

But Machado sees Fernando Tatis Jr. and Xander Bogaerts on the roster and right-handers Joe Musgrove and Yu Darvish atop the pitching rotation and doesn’t see why the Padres can’t land a playoff spot.

“Obviously, we lost some big key pieces,” Machado said. “But we believe in the guys we have in here. We know what our capabilities are. Myself, Bogey and Tati, obviously we gotta perform better than we did last year. But other than that, it’s just about going out there, playing as a team and believing in each other.”

Machado, 31, is entering his sixth season with the Padres. He has smacked 138 homers during that span, hitting 30 or more three times. The six-time All-Star has 313 career homers, 944 RBIs and a .279 average in 1,583 games with the Baltimore Orioles (2012-18), Los Angeles Dodgers (2018) and Padres.