A first for Markakis (and much more)

No game today. No position changes, no roster moves - well, I’m going out on a limb here by predicting that the roster stays the same - and no lineup shuffling.

I’ll revel in the calm and wait for the next storm.

I had planned on driving to Double-A Bowie tonight for Derrek Lee’s first injury rehab game, but manager Buck Showalter told reporters yesterday that Lee’s grandfather passed away. The first baseman’s assignment will be delayed for a few days.

So far, 2011 has been an extremely difficult year for Lee.

I found it comforting to watch Brian Matusz yesterday. He was throwing free and easy, and he reminded us how much better he can make this rotation once the Orioles remove the shackles.

Matusz could have given them more than 84 pitches, but they’ve been extremely cautious with him since he cut short a bullpen session at Tropicana Field and headed out for an MRI. Time to turn him loose in his next start. Be bold. Let him crack 90.

Vladimir Guerrero will be the designated hitter tomorrow night when the Orioles begin a nine-game homestand against the Toronto Blue Jays. Luke Scott could return to first base against right-hander Carlos Villanueva, or Nick Markakis could get another shot at it.

I give Markakis credit for looking pretty comfortable at first yesterday. Certainly much better than Javy Lopez.

Markakis probably should have caught Mark Reynolds’ high throw, but he tried to maintain contact with the bag and reach up for the ball. He fielded grounders and scooped a ball in the dirt to complete a double play. He seemed to be in the proper position for cutoffs. He didn’t look like a bear on roller skates while retreating to the bag to take a throw from second baseman Robert Andino.

I don’t know what surprised me more - that Markakis started at first base or manager Buck Showalter had a first baseman’s mitt to lend him.

Seeing Markakis in the infield reminded some fans of Eddie Murray opening the 1978 season at third. That experiment lasted three games.

Did you know that Murray appeared at third base in two games for the Dodgers in 1989 and one game in 1991? We’re only talking 3 2/3 combined innings.

Does anyone remember Murray making three starts in left field for the Orioles in 1977? I have to plead ignorant on that one.

Does anyone remember Chris Hoiles playing one inning at third base in 1997?

I’ve got to ask him about that one.

And finally, a friend who attended yesterday’s game in Seattle texted me that he was enjoying a cold “Alaskan Amber.” I replied that it sounded like an Anchorage sideline reporter.

I tell you this only because, well, I refuse to waste a quip.

Update: Hoiles wrote me that, if he’s remembering it correctly, Cal Ripken was ejected from the game and he ended up at third base.

I did a little research, and I found that Ripken was tossed from a July 20, 1997 game against the White Sox, but Aaron Ledesma replaced him at third. Here’s the box score.

I may have to check every box score from that season.

I’ve got 2,998 followers on Twitter. @masnRoch. Two more and I’m retiring. Then I’ll discover years later that I actually had 2,999 followers and I’ll be forced to come out of retirement and find one more.

Update II: Hoiles played third base for one inning in an Aug. 12, 1997 game against Oakland. Thanks to Timonsan for finding it.

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