Today’s game and yesterday’s news on Markakis

SARASOTA, Fla. - It’s back to Fort Myers and back under the lights tonight, as the Orioles visit the Minnesota Twins for a 7:05 p.m. game at Hammond Stadium.

Brian Matusz will make the start after three two-inning appearances. He’s allowed three runs - all against the Tampa Bay Rays on March 2 - and six hits, with one walk and four strikeouts.

Tommy Hunter also is slated to pitch.

Taylor Teagarden will start behind the plate after asking to enter Sunday’s game to further test his lower back. He played in yesterday’s intrasquad game, leading off each half-inning to build up his at-bats.

Nothing that happened yesterday could distract from the news that Nick Markakis’ MRI revealed a slight herniated disc in his neck.

I guess it’s only slight if it belongs to someone else.

I’m also perplexed by “minor heart attack,” but I digress ...

It’s way too early to discuss who would replace Markakis in right field on opening day if he isn’t available. He’s still expected to be on the active roster. It’s only March 12. The Orioles’ first game is April 2. Markakis never requires many at-bats to get ready. And even if he’s slow to recover, the club doesn’t have one guy projected as his backup.

The Orioles could go in many directions. They could use Nate McLouth or Nolan Reimold - assuming the latter is able to play in the field. They’ve got Russ Canzler, Conor Jackson, Steve Pearce, Lew Ford, Chris Dickerson, Jason Pridie, Ryan Flaherty, Travon Robinson and Travis Ishikawa in camp. They could move Chris Davis to right and put someone else at first base.

They could talk “Disco” Dan Ford out of retirement.

It’s just too soon to know.

Then again, there’s nothing wrong with speculating and suggesting. That’s what we do here.

If there’s a silver lining to Markakis’ absence, it gives Showalter more chances to evaluate other players in right field. He’s doing the same thing in center field while Adam Jones plays for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.

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