Markakis signs, gets acquainted

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Orioles' No. 1 draft pick likes `nice atmosphere'

June 12, 2003|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

For Nick Markakis, the third time was the charm. Or Charm City.

Markakis signed with the Orioles yesterday after being chosen last week with the seventh pick in the amateur draft. He'll receive a $1.85 million bonus, and the team intends to begin his professional career with the short-season Aberdeen IronBirds, whose opener is Tuesday at Ripken Stadium.

Drafted twice by the Cincinnati Reds, Markakis batted .439 with 21 homers and 92 RBIs at Young Harris (Ga.) College. He also appeared in 15 games as a pitcher, going 12-0 with one save and a 1.68 ERA in 96 2/3 innings, and leading all junior college players with 160 strikeouts.

It became more apparent yesterday why the Orioles project him as an outfielder. Taking batting practice with the team, he launched balls onto the flag court above the right-field scoreboard and easily cleared the 373 foot sign in right-center.

"I enjoy hitting in this park. It's a nice atmosphere," said Markakis, who had a .541 on-base percentage (.843 slugging).

Markakis, who was introduced to the crowd after the fourth inning, had 18 family members attend yesterday's news conference, creating his own Big Fat Greek Signing.

"For a big moment like this, it's nice to have them around you," he said.

Unlike last year's top pick, Adam Loewen, who came within minutes of re-entering the draft, Markakis didn't waste much time reaching an agreement.

"We took Nick because of his ability, not his signability," said scouting director Tony DeMacio.

Said Markakis: "I probably couldn't ask for a better club than Baltimore. I love it here."

Segui limps off field

David Segui fouled a ball off his left foot while batting in the eighth inning and left the game after lining a single to right field.

Jose Morban pinch ran for Segui and scored in the four-run inning.

Segui was limping as he left the field. X-rays were negative, but manager Mike Hargrove said it's doubtful that Segui will play tonight.

Raines Jr. saluted

Double-A Bowie outfielder Tim Raines Jr. was named the Eastern League's Player of the Week for June 2-8 after batting .571 with three doubles, a triple, six RBIs and seven runs.

Raines hit safely in 11 straight games before yesterday to lift his average to .305. He led the league with 26 stolen bases.

`Special' return for closer

Eight years after the Orioles traded him, Joe Borowski has returned to Camden Yards as the Chicago Cubs' closer.

Borowski, who got his 12th save last night, appeared in six games with the Orioles in 1995, allowing one run in 7 1/3 innings.

In December 1995, the Orioles sent Borowski to Atlanta for pitcher Kent Mercker - four seasons after they acquired him from the Chicago White Sox for infielder Pete Rose Jr.

"It was just outstanding, everything about it, especially it being my first time in the big leagues," Borowski said. "Even though everybody who was here isn't here anymore, it's still real special to be back."

Sun staff writer Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

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