CHICAGO - Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado has decided to have season-ending surgery on his ailing right knee, leaving the Orioles without one of their best players as they try for their first division title in 17 years.
Machado hurt himself on an awkward swing against the New York Yankees on Aug. 11, crumpling to the ground in the batter's box. He tried rest in an effort to return to the AL East-leading Orioles this year, but he said the knee just isn't getting better.
"There's nothing else we can do," Machado said before Baltimore's game at the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. "Only thing is going in there and fixing it up. It's just something it didn't get any better at all."
The 22-year-old Machado, who was selected by Baltimore with the third overall pick in the 2010 draft, was an All-Star and won a Gold Glove last year in his first full season in the majors. He played in every game before he sustained a similar injury to his other knee and missed the final week of the season.
He got his left knee fixed last October in California, and he likely will return to Dr. Neal ElAttrache in the next week or so for the procedure on his right knee. The previous operation included an arthroscopy and open reconstruction of the medial patellar femoral ligament.
"Ideally, you'd like players to be healthy for the whole season and Manny hadn't been able to get through the first two full campaigns," said Dan Duquette, the vice-president of baseball operations for the Orioles. "So hopefully these surgeries will address the issue so that when he comes back he will be able to see it through the whole season."
Machado did not play in a regular-season game this year until May 1. He hit .278 with 12 home runs and 32 RBIs in 82 games.
It's a difficult blow for the Orioles, who are in prime position for their first division title since 1997. They had an eight-game lead over the New York Yankees heading into Saturday's games.
"I don't get into that 'Woe is me, the Earth is shaking and the sky is falling,' you can't get into that mentality," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "We played 50 games without him."
Slugger Chris Davis got the start at third on Saturday. Jonathan Schoop and Ryan Flaherty also have played the position this year for Baltimore.
Duquette did not rule out bringing in someone to help make up for Machado's absence, but acknowledged that the pool of available players was thin and indicated he believes the best options are currently on the roster.
"The thing about the team and on behalf of the Orioles, we've been able to field a very competitive team this year in spite of our injuries," Duquette said. "And our team has been competitive because players step up."
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap