Orioles say injury isn't root of Markakis' struggles

Showalter, right fielder say he's healthy despite poor numbers

June 08, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

The Orioles don't know why right fielder Nick Markakis has scuffled so mightily this season, but they don't believe an injury is what's hampering their marquee player.

"It's easy to say yes, he's right. But if there was something wrong, Nicky, he wouldn't tell anybody, for the most part," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We had one night here where he got two hits and had a big game and we found out afterwards he had a 100-degree temperature. … I am answering honestly. I think he is fine [physically]."

Markakis reiterated Wednesday that he feels "100 percent" and that his offensive struggles are mechanical, not physical.

"This is my sixth year. As the player that I see myself as, yeah, it's definitely frustrating right now because I could definitely be doing a lot better and helping out the team in closer games, driving in that run, getting on base, whatever it is to get us going," Markakis said. "It's just not happening right now. I'm working at it. I'm definitely trying to get out of this thing that I'm in. Hopefully, it turns around sooner rather than later."

Markakis, 27, is hitting .237 on the season, is 6-for-43 in his past 11 games and hasn't had an extra base hit since May 15 — a span of 87 at-bats. He has just four homers this year after a career-low 12 in 2010.

"The reason you use the S-word [slump] is because what he has done in the past," Showalter said. "So I am real confident, when the smoke clears, where Nick is going to be, with the body of work [he has]."

A career .298 hitter before 2011, Markakis signed a six-year, $66.1 million extension in January 2009, joining second baseman Brian Roberts as the faces of the franchise.

Showalter continues to play Markakis, who has started 59 of 60 games this year and has taken extra hitting and studied his at-bats on video in an attempt to rebound.

"He is doing all the things he can do, in some cases maybe too much. But you are never going to take the want-to out of that with Nick. He's got too much of it going on," Showalter said. "He's a guy you trust, you trust with a lot of things. And he'll figure it out, along with some help. I know we've had a lot of time and effort spent addressing it, a lot for his needs as much as anything."

Roberts encouraged

Roberts was in the home clubhouse Wednesday, a day after a Pittsburgh concussion specialist told the Orioles' second baseman he couldn't engage in baseball activities for at least two more weeks.

"I think anytime that they say you're getting better, that's always good," said Roberts, who hasn't played since suffering concussion symptoms after sliding into first base May 16. "Two weeks had gone by. If I went up there and he said, 'Hmmm, you look about the same,' I wouldn't have been that thrilled. It's never as fast as you want, but that's part of every injury. It never goes as fast as you want."

Roberts said he feels as if he is improving but some symptoms linger.

"If they were all gone, I'd probably, hopefully, be doing baseball stuff today, so they're not all gone," he said. "We're just trying to progress through some things to make sure that as I do the progressions, that they're not there anymore."

There is no timetable for his return. He is expected to head back to Sarasota, Fla., this week and will participate in light cardio activities. He'll revisit with Dr. Michael Collins in Pittsburgh in another two weeks.

"I know it's a cliche, but it's really true in this one. We're just taking it one step at a time, and we haven't talked at all about what's past the next 10 days or two weeks," Roberts said. "Once I go back to see him, then we'll see where I am at that point and we'll see what's next."

Lee to go on bereavement list

First baseman Derrek Lee is expected to miss all three games this weekend while attending his grandfather's funeral Friday in California. He will be put on baseball's bereavement list Thursday, allowing the Orioles to temporarily promote a replacement.

A player on the list must miss at least three days, meaning that if Lee is placed on the list by noon Thursday, a day off, he could return by Sunday if he chooses.

The Orioles are likely to recall first baseman Brandon Snyder, who is on the 40-man roster and has already been with the Orioles this season, or third baseman Josh Bell, also on the 40-man. The club has an open spot on its 40-man roster if it wants to add someone else.

The draft

The Orioles completed their 2011 amateur draft with the final 20 rounds Wednesday. Among the notable selections on Day 3: Maryland right-handed pitcher Sander Beck from Millersville, who was taken in the 33rd round, and John Carroll first baseman Brendan Butler, who was selected in the 50th and final round.

Butler of Bel Air became the second member of the Patriots team to be chosen by the Orioles this year. His John Carroll teammate, third baseman K.J. Hockaday, was selected in the 14th round.

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