Markakis on Cruz: “He’s my teammate now, so I’ve got to be a teammate”

SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis has been one of the more outspoken opponents of steroid use in baseball, accusing cheaters of stealing money and pushing for harsher penalties.

With news breaking today that the Orioles reached agreement with Nelson Cruz on a one-year contract, Markakis figured to draw a crowd of reporters at his locker.

“It doesn’t change my opinion toward anything,” Markakis said. “He’s my teammate now, so I’ve got to be a teammate. No matter if you disagree or agree with your teammates, they’re still your teammates. He’s going to be welcome here and we are going to play as one. That’s for sure.”

Asked whether the addition of Cruz, who was suspended 50 games last season for his part in the Biogenesis scandal, would create issues among other Orioles, Markakis said, “I wouldn’t think so.”

“That’s everyone’s personal decision on how they feel about somebody,” he added. “Everybody has got their own views and their own ways of looking at things. But ultimately, when we’re all under one roof, we’re a team, so we’re going to welcome him just like anyone else.

“We know how things go on in this clubhouse, we know how we do things and we do things certain ways. Guys coming in here are going to have to adjust to that. It’s not just about making adjustments in the batter’s box and on the pitcher’s mound, it’s making adjustments to a new clubhouse, a new team and so forth. There’s adjustments, not just on the field, but off the field, too.”

Markakis heard rumors that the Orioles could sign Cruz, so the agreement didn’t catch him by surprise.

“It was floating around there. I don’t even know if it’s official,” he said.

“I’m not an idiot. I’m well aware of what’s going on and what’s been going on in baseball. But my opinion doesn’t change toward anything. He’s part of this team now and he’s going to be in this clubhouse and we’re going to welcome him just like anybody else. He’s going to be part of this team.”

Cruz will be the third free agent signing in a week, joining Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon and veteran right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. It’s been quite a flurry of activity from an organization accused of not getting off the stool the entire offseason.

“I think it was Dan (Duquette) or Buck (Showalter) or one of them who commented that sometimes the longer you wait, the better deals you get. That’s the case now,” Markakis said.

“Sometimes, you wait on those guys and in the long run, it’s a good team deal. It worked out good for us. We picked up two great guys late. Hopefully, they can help us and we’ll see how it pans out.”

Showalter wouldn’t comment specifically about Cruz, since the deal is pending a physical that may not take place until Monday. I’ll pass along his comments in my next entry.

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