"I think it's the hardest part," said Machado, who has done some lateral stuff but mostly straightaway hitting and fielding. "The way I have to approach things now is kind of mentally do the things right. I'm training my body now, training my mind to do certain things while [I] run and cut. ... At the same time, I got to think, 'I can't overdo it'. I don't want to overdo it at this point so close and how far I've come. I don't want to go out there and run the bases or slide or dive for a ball and try to mess this up. ... It's hard. It's hard to hold myself back."
Machado, who has been working out in Miami, fielded balls on the team's turf field with shortstop J.J. Hardy, shifting from side to side and getting on one knee at one point.
"We are following the doctors' protocol," manager Buck Showalter said of the rehab plan. "He is supposed to take ground balls straight on, hit, he can run straight on, but we are not going side to side, we are not turning bases. ... Most of this I'm going to rely on Manny. Because we are real close to the point where structurally he's fine. He's got one more sign off, I think, by the doctors."
That will come around mid-March and will go a long way in determining if Machado is ready to play in spring games. If that's the case, he would be eligible to be ready for Opening Day. Any later than that would put being ready for the opener in question.
Typically, players always want to push the agenda. But Showalter -- who has purposely stayed away from bothering Machado about his knee -- didn't seem worried about that with Machado.
"I don't think Manny will do that," he said. "I think he's got the right amount of caution here, I do.
"I think at some point, whenever it is, we are going to get [from the doctors], 'OK, turn it loose.' And his body will tell him and he will tell us [when he's ready]."
Machado, who had played every game since his August 2012 debut before he suffered the injury while landing awkwardly on the first-base bag during a game against the Rays on Sept. 23, said he's preparing just as much mentally as he is physically to be fully ready in 2014.
"I want to be perfect when I go out there, I don't want to be out there [halfway]," Machado said. "I want to be 110 percent, perfect. Everything I do has to be perfect to go out there and start playing.
"I'm going to try to play as many games as I can. If I miss the first week or two weeks, once I get going, I'm not going to stop."
Showalter echoed that sentiment about his young All-Star, who won a Gold Glove Award in his first pro season.
"My big thing, I do not want a setback," Showalter said. "Shame on us. Or shame on Manny. It's one of those things where he may say, 'I'm ready to go.' And [then it's], 'Fine, you got another two days'. That's what I don't want to happen."