Markakis breaks thumb, out for rest of regular season (updated)

X-rays taken on Nick Markakis’ left hand revealed a break in the middle of his thumb, which will cost him the remainder of the regular season and could severely impact the Orioles’ chances of making the playoffs.

Markakis could be out a minimum of six weeks, according to manager Buck Showalter. More pictures will be taken Sunday to determine whether Markakis needs surgery.

“It breaks my heart, personally,” Showalter said.

“We’ve been a sum of the parts team all year and we certainly lost a big part tonight.”

Showalter isn’t ready to reveal who will lead off and play right field in Markakis’ absence. He needs more time to “shuffle cards,” he said.

As for whether Markakis is done for 2012, Showalter said, “I hope to get him back in time to play deep in the playoffs for us. How’s that?”

UPDATE: Here are most of the postgame comments from Showalter:

“It’s broken. A minimum of six weeks, but it’s so preliminary right now. They’ll get some more pictures. We’ve got good X-ray stuff here, but there’s still some more extensive tests you can take. I knew when I looked at it going out there. I’m sure you guys that have been around Nicky know when he comes out of a game that quick, it’s not good. It breaks my heart personally, and for him. I know how much this time of the season means to him. We’ll go forward from there.

os_markakis_cast.jpg“We’re hoping that there’s not going to have to be another surgery. Nicky had some stuff with his abdomen in the off-season and had a hamate, so the last thing I want him to go through or any of our guys is a third surgery. We’re hoping for good news for him personally in the next day or two.

“I’ve said all along, injuries are part of our game. You hate to see it happen like that. It’s one of those things that, we’ve been a sum of the parts team all year and we certainly lost a big part tonight, but we’ll kind of reorganize or reassess where we are and see what we can do. If I know this club and this group, someone will step forward, just like Lew Ford did tonight.”

Asked about replacing Markakis, Showalter said, “We just got through with a tough ballgame. I’m going to start shuffling the cards down there a little bit. I’ll get the air mattress going if I can plug the leak and we’ll see where we are tomorrow.

“It’s definitely broken. He’s out. We’re hoping he can get back in time to play deep in the playoffs for us. How’s that? That’s why we get up in the morning.

“They know Nicky. They know he’s been playing with a bicep hit by pitch that most people would have taken a week off. It’s emotional for all of us because we know how much he means, and more importantly, how much the Orioles mean to him. He’s been here from the start and to get this opportunity... If I know our guys, they’re going to rally around him. He’s a special breed. We’re lucky. The more you manage, the more you’re lucky to have a guy like him, regardless of what the statistics say. If you get bogged down with statistics, you’d never be able to make out your lineup.”

Showalter was reminded about the resiliency of his club.

“A lot of times you hold the fort down until you get your guys back,” he said. “We’re hoping we get news back tomorrow that we’ve got to figure out a way to win, get in the playoffs and get deep enough that Nick can try to come back. I’m trying to stay... I continue to look at things half full. The last thing our guys need is to see me wallow way in self pity because nobody is going to feel sorry for you. Most of all the Yankees. Most people don’t really care about your problems and are happy you’ve got them.”

Asked about Ford’s contributions tonight and his long road back to the majors, Showalter said, “First of all, not really ever giving up hope and continuing to grind it in the Atlantic League and our people, with the job they did down in Triple-A and the people who scouted. I see the work Lew does every day when he’s not playing. We go through periods when we don’t see left-handers. And we thought it was a good matchup, even though the numbers may not look that way. If you’re trying to find good numbers against Sabathia, they’re going to be few and far between.”

Joe Saunders started slow but retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.

“You watch the other team and they tell you all you need to know,” Showalter said. “They let you know how he’s doing, and that’s one thing about having a guy who’s been in the fire before. There’s a little smoke in the house, they’re not going to give in. He had a couple opportunities early to let it get away from him, but he’s not intimidated by the competition. Joe got us deep in the game, and Darren got a lot of big outs for us. He probably did as good a job as anybody.

“I think the biggest thing I’m happy for is our players and our fans. They’ve taken that game on the chin. As I get older I can take in a moment a lot better, and I stopped when I went out and shook their hands and I looked around our ballpark, the way it’s hopefully going to be. The way it can be. I take that in. And then I come back down the steps and try to figure out a way to help us win tomorrow and how we’re going to offset Nick’s situation.”

Pedro Strop served up Alex Rodriguez’s home run and couldn’t get out of the eighth inning, the latest bad outing for the club’s primary set-up man.

“He got two big outs for us to start the inning,” Showalter said. “And the home run, which I’ve seen unsettle some people who are 35 years old and have been doing this for years. It’s a good learning experience for him and he’ll be better off for it.

“Brian Matusz has very quietly gotten some big outs and that’s going to bode well for us.”

Before Showalter left the interview room, he was asked whether he had pushed the Markakis injury out of his mind during the game. Not a chance.

“I talked to him down in the runway, a private moment,” Showalter said, the emotion evident on his face. “It’s tough. It’s tough.”

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