At first All-Star Game, Nick Markakis talks about family, O’s and Machado

WASHINGTON - When he was an Oriole, Nick Markakis was always very cordial and available to reporters. But he certainly wasn’t going to fill up any notebooks with quotes. Amid a horde of reporters today on the eve of his first All-Star Game, he referenced his reputation for being a man of few words.

“There is a lot of media time, which I’m really excited about,” he said, drawing a lot of laughs. “No, I get it. You guys are here for your job and we’re here to take care of that for you guys.”

Markakis then proceeded to do just that: taking on a variety of questions as the pro he is. Maybe he was having fun not because he was surrounded by reporters, but by his three kids, Taylor, Tucker and Toby.

At 34, Markakis is indeed a first-time All-Star and obviously a very proud dad, too.

nick-markakis-close.png“It’s awesome. It’s a good feeling,” he said. “These guys right here are what it’s all about and I’m most excited for them. Going to be a fun experience. My boys have been hanging out with me taking everything in. Not only a great experience for me, but for these guys, as well. It’s fun to be among the best baseball players in the world. Sometimes words can’t quite describe it. This will be an experience we’ll never forget.

“I’m glad it came at this time of my career. If it was earlier in my career, these guys wouldn’t be able to be here. This is a great couple of days for them.”

Markakis led all National League outfielders with nearly 3.6 million votes. He’ll bat seventh and play right field tomorrow night at Nationals Park.

In 94 games for the Atlanta Braves, he’s batting .323/.389/.488 with 29 doubles, one triple, 10 homers and 61 RBIs. His current OPS of .877 - if he maintains it through the year - would be his best since the .897 he posted as a 24-year-old Oriole in 2008.

“Age is just a number,” he said. “The older you get, you do have to work harder. I understand that and am devoted to that. Doing the little things to keep you out there. I’d like to play as long as I can. As long as my body allows me to and somebody wants me and I’m still productive, why not?”

Markakis provided a typical classy answer when reminded that he still has plenty of fans in Baltimore and that they are thrilled he’s an All-Star.

“I still live there and I’ve got a lot of friends and family there. That just shows you what kind of fans and people they are. It is much appreciated,” he said.

Markakis and the Braves are on the doorstep of first place in the National League East at a time when his former teammates in Baltimore have the game’s worst record.

“It is definitely not the way they wanted things to go,” he said. “I think they are stepping back and trying to build that system and that organization, which they really do need. It starts at the bottom. It’s a tough spot. I know they want to be competitive, but there comes a point in time you have to reconsider and go back to the drawing board. But I played with a lot of those guys and they’re awesome. Whether they finish with the Orioles this year or wherever they are, they’re going to be successful. I’ll keep track of them. I talk to them all the time. I’ll be watching them and rooting them on. Whoever gets them will be lucky to have them.”

One of those players that could soon be elsewhere is, of course, Manny Machado. Machado has said Markakis provided him and others with great leadership in their time as Orioles.

Markakis said it was fun to watch Machado develop into an All-Star.

“It’s fun watching young guys come up, play with them for years and then watching them mature and see what they turn into,” Markakis said. “He is one guy that came up and really didn’t struggle. He figured it out and he is showing it now. He got better and better. I’m happy for him. Whatever his future holds, whether with Baltimore or anyone else, they will be lucky to get him. He’s a special player.”

A player that could even potentially wind up in Atlanta. The Braves been among the teams rumored to have interest.

“He could do for us what he could do for any team,” Markakis said. “He is one of the top players in the game defensively and offensively. Whoever he goes to is going to be very lucky. And they’ll get a good guy and a great baseball player.”

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