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Former Baysox Machado Has Hot Start with Orioles

The Orioles remain in the playoff hunt in August—how do you think the Birds will finish?

What if?

What if the Orioles actually took those requests for Manny Machado seriously?

The Orioles (62-53, second wild card leader) could have had a veteran starter, or a middle-of-the-road third baseman—if only they were willing to part with Machado, who moved up last week from the Bowie Baysox.

Standing pat was seen as a move for the long-term. After Machado's debut last week, Dan Duquette's reluctance to trade Machado is working out to be a positive in the short-term, too.

Machado homered again Sunday—his third in four big league games.

He's already been moved from the No. 9 spot to the No. 7 spot in the Orioles' order. How long before—like the Nationals did with outfielder Bryce Harper—we see Machado in a prime spot in the lineup?

Only his bat will determine that.

I immediately saw parallels to another former shortstop breaking in at third base: Cal Ripken.

Ripken addressed it Friday before the start of the in .

"Fantastic prospect, fantastic player, and I'm interested in watching him," he said.

Ripken had a chance to meet Machado shortly after he made his professional debut in 2010, while Machado was with the .

He talked with him again last month at the All-Star Futures game, and called his progress "interesting."

"He really understands the game really well," Ripken said. "He's really advanced in his thinking about the shortstop position. He joked with me a little bit, 'Maybe I'll have to learn how to play third now.' In my mind, if you can play short, you can go over there and play third."

Ripken would know, having made the transition twice: once to start his career, and again at the end.

Machado could move back to shortstop in time. For now, J.J. Hardy is playing near-Gold Glove caliber defense at short. He remains under contract through 2014.

Maybe, rather than wondering what is to come, we should all take the same approach as Ripken—simply being a fan of the present.

Ripken said Friday evening: "I was really ecstatic to see him get off to a good start."

It only got better later that night.

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SCHEDULE » MON.:
Off  |  TUES.-THURS.: vs. Boston | FRI.-SUN.: @ Detroit 
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THE CYCLE » This week's key notes & observations from Birdland.

  • SINGLE » Is it just me, or is Mark Reynolds starting to look even more comfortable at first base? The Orioles have an $11 million option they can exercise for Reynolds to return in 2013.
  • DOUBLE » INF/OF Ryan Flaherty will go on a rehab assignment this week after fighting off a bacterial infection. As a Rule 5 pick, he has to remain on the active roster all season or be offered back to the Cubs—save for, of course, a stint on the disabled list.
  • TRIPLE » LHP Troy Patton has gone from mid-level prospect to shut-down reliever this summer. Patton entered this week having gone 17 straight appearances without allowing a run. As the O's lone lefty in the bullpen, he's been huge.
  • HOMER » RHP Jason Hammel is aiming for an early September return. If he can rebound from his knee injury and return to form, Hammel would be a huge factor in the Orioles' push for a wild card spot. 

TELL US: How confident are you in the Orioles' chances to make the playoffs? Leave a comment.

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