Markakis has small disc herniation (with quotes and note)

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis has been diagnosed with a small disc herniation in his neck. He flew to Baltimore today to be examined by spine specialist Dr. Lee Riley at Johns Hopkins Hospital and is expected to return to camp Wednesday.

The slight tear, discovered yesterday after he underwent an MRI, is located in C4-C5, according to manager Buck Showalter. The normal healing period is seven to 14 days, and Markakis already has been shut down for week.

The hope is that Markakis, whose neck felt better yesterday, will be able to play again within the next week as the injury "resolves itself," Showalter said. Surgery isn't considered an option at this point.

The Orioles would prefer that the MRI didn't show anymore more serious than spasms, but they still consider it a relief that the news wasn't worse, considering that the injury involves a herniated disc.

I'll pass along Showalter's quotes in a few minutes.

Also, Chris Tillman played catch yesterday and felt fine. He's day-to-day with soreness in his abdomen area.

Tsuyoshi Wada threw from 60 feet yesterday. Nolan Reimold threw from 90 feet and is close to getting a start in left field after being shut down with right shoulder soreness.

Minor league catcher Luis Martinez is fully active over at Twin Lakes Park and soon will be summoned to major league camp. Showalter wants to evaluate him behind the plate.

Lew Ford left camp today to deal with a family matter and will return on Wednesday.

Update: Markakis underwent three surgeries in 2012 - on his abdomen, right wrist and left thumb - but the Orioles are confident that he can avoid another one this spring.

Dr. Riley also examined Reimold last season. Reimold eventually underwent surgery to remove five pieces of a shattered disc in his neck and to fuse two vertebrae.

Markakis, who hasn't played since March 1, is dealing with a small tear, "which is like a disc herniation, but everything else is structurally fine," Showalter said. "Some of the things you worry about with it weren't present. We have positive hopes for it to resolve itself.

"The good news is he felt better yesterday, so that's good. Inactive and then you can do the math on when he'll start playing again, hopefully.

"We'd like for it to be nothing, just a spasm, but when you start talking about that, you hope you get that type of prognosis."

Also, today's intrasquad game, which was delayed by rain, is now scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. - unless another storm passes through Sarasota.

Note: The Orioles have hired Nelson Norman as director of baseball operations for the Dominican Republic. In his new role, Norman will oversee all aspects of the club's activities in the Dominican Republic, including their academy operations and Dominican Summer League team.

A former major league infielder born in San Pedro de Macoris, Norman, 54, has over two decades of experience in player development with Montreal, Atlanta, Boston, Minnesota, St. Louis and Washington - both in the United States and the Dominican Republic.

Norman has also been assistant manager for the Licey Baseball Club in the Dominican Winter League since 1997, and previously was general manager and manager for the Estrellas Orientales Baseball Club in San Pedro de Macoris. He served as a manager in the Dominican Summer League with the Twins from 2003-2006. While with the Red Sox, Norman was Director of their Dominican Republic academy from 1997-2000 and coordinated their entire Latin American operations in 2001 and 2002.

Originally signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1975, Norman played parts of six seasons (1978-82, 1987) in the majors with the Pirates, Texas Rangers and Expos. He spent the 1985 season with Triple-A Rochester in the Orioles' organization.

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