Not only will Nick Markakis play for the Orioles tonight for the first time since May 29, but he'll be the first to bat tonight. Markakis is in the leadoff spot in the order for the first time in his career.
"I had a little heads up about it," Markakis said a few moments ago in the O's clubhouse. "I'm up for whatever. I think it's my first time. I won't change my approach, try to do what I can to get on base and help us win the game."
Markakis said he doesn't feel any pressure to help rejuvenate an Orioles offense that has not scored in its last 22 innings.
"No," Markakis said. "That's a good thing (that people think I can help). It's just good to be back."
Markakis returns to the team and to a pennant race with the Orioles holding the second AL wild card spot as the second half begins.
"All the guys, we're all excited and the fans are excited, too," he said. "We just need to keep doing what we've been doing."
Markakis is now over five weeks removed from right wrist surgery, but said he still has some discomfort. In 50 Orioles games, he is batting .256 with eight homers and 26 RBIs.
"No, I can't say I'm pain-free," he said. "There is soreness in there. But when I'm doing what I need to do, I'm fine. It is just a matter of taking care of it and getting that soreness out of there. I need to play."
In three rehab games at Double-A Bowie, Markakis went 3-for-10 with two homers and four RBIs.
"It was tough (sitting out). It was definitely something different and I'm glad it's over," he said.