HOUSTON - Wondering how Nick Markakis’ neck is feeling this morning? You came to the right place.
Markakis almost was scratched from yesterday’s Orioles lineup due to neck stiffness, but it subsided in batting practice and he made a tremendous running catch in right field to leave the bases loaded.
Markakis remains in the lineup today as the designated hitter, though manager Buck Showalter indicated that he wanted to put Nelson Cruz in the outfield. Cruz came out of a game in Milwaukee last week with tightness in his calf and has been restricted to DH duties.
As for Markakis, he received more treatment on his neck this morning and noticed some improvement.
“Ever since my herniated disc, it pops up from time to time. Just something I have to deal with,” he said.
“I’m still a little stiff, but it’s better than yesterday, so it’s moving in the right direction. Similar thing to what I had right before opening day.”
Markakis had no idea he was the DH today until head athletic trainer Richie Bancells told him.
“I’m fine with it. Gives me an extra day,” Markakis said.
“Throwing bothers it more than hitting, so it’s good to get a DH day every now and then. Plus the off-day (Monday).”
Showalter tied his decision to DH Markakis with Cruz’s improved health.
“It’s one of the advantages of Nelson being able to play the outfield well,” Showalter said. “Nelly came up to me yesterday and said, ‘By the way, I’m back to full strength with my leg. When you want to get somebody off the field, I’m good to go back out there.’ When he tried to steal third (yesterday), I knew it was feeling good.
“It was either Nick or Jonesy (Adam Jones) that I was going to DH today. I was trying to give somebody the benefit of two days off the field. You could flip a coin. Both of them post up every day.
“Nick’s neck is better. I hope it’s the same as yesterday. He’s something. I can’t tell you how many guys wouldn’t have played yesterday. Not wouldn’t have, but wouldn’t have come in here and tried to work all morning trying to get it to loosen up. A lot of guys would have just woken up and said, ‘I’m out.’ That’s what you can’t evaluate with analytics. Where’s that show up?”
Markakis figures to need periodic treatment on his neck throughout the season.
“It’s going to crop up now and then,” Showalter said. “He and we manage it. I tell you all the time that there are so many things that go on in there and you just don’t broadcast everything.
“The same people who are sending me lineups at noon are the ones sending me changes at 3 or 4 constantly. Too many things can go on between the time you leave and the next day.”