BALTIMORE -- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado was officially reinstated before the first game of Thursday's doubleheader against the Pirates, but the infielder had to wait a few more hours before making his first start.
After watching from the bench as Baltimore won Game 1, 5-1, Machado was in the lineup at third base, batting second, in the nightcap.
"Manny wasn't going to play 18 innings [his] first day back from rehab," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Machado, who hasn't played in a Major League game since suffering a season-ending knee injury on Sept. 23. "I have my reasons, and talking to Manny, I don't want to see him play the first game, sit around for a long time and then be asked to come into a game, potentially the second game.
"I made sure that he knew we weren't going to play him 18 innings. I just don't think that's very smart."
Machado, coming off an All-Star and Gold Glove season, last played in a rehab game for Class A Advanced Frederick on Sunday, and he traveled to Baltimore on Tuesday morning after Monday night's Minor League contest was canceled. The O's have had rainouts on back-to-back nights, further delaying the highly-anticipated return of their third baseman.
"I think it worked out good that Manny had a day or so to get calmed down again," Showalter said. "He busted his butt the last couple of days here getting ready. It's actually been kind of good here to take his breath and get settled here in the locker room, instead of traveling back and forth to Frederick. There's nobody more excited today than Manny. This is his Opening Day after the All-Star break."
To make room for Machado on the roster, the Orioles optioned Steve Lombardozzi to Triple-A Norfolk. Lombardozzi, acquired in a late-spring trade from the Detroit Tigers, was chosen over Jemile Weeks, who was added to the team last week.
"I think where we are as a club and what our needs are going to be with Manny coming back, just initially [Weeks] might fit us a tad better, but we'll see," Showalter said. "But that's a good tough decision -- two switch-hitting middle infielders."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.