As the Orioles await word on whether Major League Baseball will suspend Manny Machado, they face their own pressing decision on the struggling third baseman.
Should they demote Machado to the minors?
“That’s always an option,” general manager Dan Duquette told FOX Sports on Tuesday. “The guy distinguished himself in the big leagues last year. We’d much rather see him develop his skills here. But that’s always an option.”
Machado, 21, missed the first month of the season after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left knee last Oct. 14. He is batting .229 with a .619 OPS in 154 plate appearances — a far cry from what he accomplished offensively in his first full season a year ago.
Prior to injuring his knee last Sept. 23, Machado appeared in all 156 games, batting .283 with a .746 OPS, 14 home runs and 51 doubles. He also played brilliant defense, made the American League All-Star team as a reserve and finished 10th in the majors in Wins Above Replacement (WAR), according to Fangraphs.com.
This season, Machado is swinging at a greater percentage of pitches outside of the strike zone, hitting more groundballs and fewer line drives. On Monday night, he fell behind 0-2 in three of his four at-bats, going 0 for 4 and striking out twice.
If the Orioles demoted Machado, they could play Ryan Flaherty at third and Jonathan Schoop at second, just as they did at times in April when Machado was recovering from his injury.
They also could recall infielder Steve Lombardozzi, whom they demoted shortly before activating Machado. Lombardozzi is batting .307 with a .692 OPS at Triple-A.