Q&a -- Nick Markakis

March 14, 2007|By JEFF ZREBIEC

A pitcher and outfielder at Young Harris College in Georgia, Markakis was the Orioles' first-round selection in the 2003 draft. The Orioles selected him as an outfielder, and the 23-year-old rewarded the organization's decision last season with a strong rookie campaign. Markakis, who was a long shot to make the team but cracked the 25-man roster with a dynamic spring, hit .291 last year with 16 home runs and 62 RBIs.

How much did your life change off the field after your rookie season? -- It's not too bad right now, but in this game, the more success you have, you become more recognizable outside baseball. That's part of the job, and you just have to deal with it. I bought a place [in Georgia] kind of out in the middle of nowhere for that purpose down the line.

Who was the toughest pitcher you faced in your rookie season? -- I really cannot hit [New York Yankees right-hander and former Orioles ace] Mike Mussina. I think he is really tough. Just the way he pitches, he gets you all screwed up.

A lot is made how you and Orioles owner Peter Angelos are both Greek. What is your relationship like with him? -- Actually, I've met everyone in his family but him. I've met his wife. They are all very nice people. Eventually, somewhere down the line, I am sure I'll meet him, too.

Do you miss pitching and ever wonder how things would go if you were a pitcher, not an outfielder? -- Yeah, it's something you had done all your life and it's kind of hard to just drop it and not think about it. But it's in the past at this point. I joke around with [pitching coach Leo Mazzone], but it's nothing more than that.

You were named one of "Baltimore" magazine's hottest singles. Is that an honor or just something that your teammates make fun of you for? -- I really don't know what to say about that. It's something fun that the guys throw around out there and I have fun with it.

How do you spend your time off the field? -- I'm a big outdoor person - hunting, fishing, being outdoors with my dog. I like doing anything outside. In the offseason, it's time to relax and get out there in peace and quiet. I hunt a variety of stuff - coyotes, deer, duck.

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