Walker suffers concussion on line drive


Markakis `shocked' at result of his hit

February 24, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo rushed from behind the cage to the mound yesterday after a line drive from Nick Markakis struck Jamie Walker on the back of the head during batting practice.

Walker used the unscheduled meeting to tell his manager that he's a "tough son of a gun," a claim Perlozzo won't ever doubt after his reliever stayed upright and walked off the field without assistance.

"I believe him," Perlozzo said.

The Orioles transported Walker to Holy Cross Hospital for further evaluation, and he was diagnosed with a mild concussion. A CT scan came back negative, and he's listed as day-to-day.

"It definitely made my heart skip a little bit," Markakis said. "You hate to see something like that happen. Hopefully, he's OK."

Markakis later went into the clubhouse searching for Walker, who signed a three-year, $12 million contract in November, but the reliever had already left the complex.

"I think it was an off-speed pitch," Markakis said. "I saw it going right back up the middle, but everything happened so quick. It shocked me, pretty much."

Markakis said he had never hit a pitcher with a line drive until yesterday.

"I heard he took it off the head," Markakis said. "For the team, and for me, I hope he's OK."

Said Perlozzo: "Nick didn't do anything wrong. He hit a ball right on the button, the way he's supposed to do. That's what it's all about. We can twist an ankle stepping down into the dugout. That's just part of it."

Pitchers are given the option of using a protective screen or pushing it aside. Walker moved the screen.

Bako on O's pitchers

Catcher Paul Bako, projected as the backup to Ramon Hernandez, is getting his first up-close look at the Orioles' young pitchers after signing as a free agent.

"Not to put any pressure on those guys," Bako said, "but if [Daniel] Cabrera and [Adam] Loewen step up a little bit and mature as a natural progression, not adding on a whole lot but just getting better, I think that's really going to deepen our pitching staff and give us a real chance here in the East."

Bako caught Chris Ray during Thursday's workout and took notice of more than the young closer's velocity.

"Obviously, he lights up the radar gun," Bako said. "But what impressed me the first time catching him was how well he works in and out and down. I didn't get to see him pitch that much previously, but it looks like he's got a real idea of how to locate the ball."

Rundown feelings

The Orioles spent the early part of the workout on rundown drills before taking batting practice.

"I thought it went pretty well today," Perlozzo said. "You're going to have a few glitches here and there, but overall I thought the guys put a good effort into it. And I think we got our point across on how we want to get it done."

The workout concluded with base-running and conditioning drills. Players practiced making the turn at first base, going from first to third, and sprinting home from third. Perlozzo doesn't care if players use their left or right foot when rounding first base - just don't step on the middle of it.

"The key to that is using the inside part of the bag," he said. "If you concentrate on your right foot and it doesn't come up, you stutter-step and it slows you up. So it's any foot, inside corner. Shortest distance."


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