Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis is still in learning mode after eight seasons in the majors.
Markakis told me yesterday that it's his failure to make adjustments, not his health, that's contributed to his career-low 10 home runs and 23 doubles in 631 at-bats. The three surgeries last year and the neck injury in spring training didn't drain his power.
"I just didn't feel comfortable at the plate this year," he said before collecting two singles, grounding into a double play and striking out last night. "With hitting, it's all about adjustments and being able to find that fine-tune and it just seems like I wasn't able to click and find it this year. But when you have a long enough career, things like that are going to happen. You learn from it and you try to get better from it.
"You ask a lot of veteran guys - you learn something new every day. That's what life and everything else in general is about. It's about learning and building on that and trying to get better.
"It's just one of those weird years. Like I said, you play this game long enough, things like this are going to happen. You move on and learn from it and build on it."
Markakis is batting .271/.327/.355 with 59 RBIs. The number he's most proud of is listed under games played - 159 - after he was limited to 104 in 2012 because of a broken hamate bone and thumb.
"Obviously, I'm not pleased with the year I've had, but the biggest thing is I was healthy this year," he said. "I played in just as many games as I wanted to play in. I'd say I've got some work cut out for me this offseason. I've got some things planned. After this season is over, like I say, you look back at it as a learning experience. You learn from it and you move on. That's pretty much all you can do."
Many fans wondered if Markakis was hiding an injury as he continually failed to produce extra-base hits and drive the ball.
"I think it's just a bit of bad timing (at the plate)," he said. "You're going to have your good luck and your bad luck. It was just a weird year, to sum it up, but I learned from it. I'll try to get better from it. That's pretty much all you can do."
Markakis already has become focused on his offseason workouts. Vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson is setting up a program for him, and Ryan Crotin, one of the strength and conditioning coaches, will implement it.
"I'll be doing bits and pieces of a certain type of training," Markakis said. "Brady and Ryan will be heavily involved. But the biggest thing was just staying healthy and battling through a 162-game season."
Markakis will be paid $15 million next season in the final year of his contract. The Orioles hold a $17.5 million option in 2015 with a $2 million buyout.
They could be facing a difficult decision.
Markakis just wants to put a difficult season behind him.