Markakis won't play Sunday

BRADENTON, Fla. - Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis won't be in Sunday's lineup against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Ed Smith Stadium because of continuing stiffness in his neck.

Markakis' neck tightened up again yesterday while he played with his kids, according to manager Buck Showalter. He's better today - basically back to where he was two days ago - but the Orioles aren't taking any chances.

"He's still close, but I wouldn't say Sunday. I'll probably wait a little bit on that one, just to be sure," Showalter said.

Markakis was scratched from Sunday's lineup. He hasn't played since Feb. 27.

Catcher Taylor Teagarden is scheduled to play on Monday against the Pirates in Bradenton. He took batting practice again today and caught bullpen sessions to further test his lower back.

For now, Showalter still plans on using Nolan Reimold as his designated hitter, but he added, "Let's see what Sunday brings."

"He's feeling a little bit better each day with his shoulder," Showalter said.

A few people in the organization were surprised, to say the least, that Pedro Strop pitched 1 2/3 innings last night for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

Strop retired all five batters he faced, striking out two, and was credited with the win against Venezuela. He threw 20 pitches, so his arm wasn't abused by any means, but there was some surprise that he came back out for a second inning.

Jonathan Schoop had a single, RBI double and three-run homer last night for the Netherlands in an upset win over Cuba. Showalter said Schoop can play the infield in the majors - second base, shortstop or third base - though some scouts think he may have to move to the outfield.

"He's got plenty of arm strength, he's got good hands, he's got good work habits," Showalter said. "You put him in a foot race, I can tell you five or six infielders in the big leagues that he's a comparable runner with, and they're not going to hit the home runs that he's potentially going to hit."

Showalter said the experience gained by Schoop in the WBC is "nothing but good."

"I think a lot of people are seeing what a good player and prospect he is," Showalter said.

Schoop will return to major league camp once he's done with the WBC, rather than be reassigned to Twin Lakes Park.

"We miss him here, because there were a lot of times I'd love to have played him," Showalter said. "At least he's playing."

The Orioles must decide whether to assign Schoop, 21, to Double-A Bowie or Triple-A Norfolk. Last year, he batted .245/.324/.386 with 24 doubles, 14 homers and 56 RBIs in 124 games with the Baysox.

The Orioles have brought pitchers Chris Petrini, Zech Zinicola and Rob Delaney, catcher Caleb Joseph, infielder Buck Britton and outfielder Glynn Davis to Bradenton from minor league camp.

Speaking of minor league camp, Showalter stopped by Twin Lakes Park this morning. Nothing was happening at the major league facility, and Showalter always stays busy.

"Brian (Graham) is in his element. We're lucky to have him running that thing," Showalter said. "There's a good feel to that camp. You can tell everybody's really energized by it."

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