Hardy on Markakis: “Everyone thought he’d be back”

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy spoke to Nick Markakis earlier this afternoon, two friends getting caught up on today’s news.

Two friends coming to grips with being former teammates.

Markakis has agreed to a four-year, $44 million contract with the Braves, removing the longest-tenured Oriole from the clubhouse.

hardy-throws-back-white-sidebar.jpg“He gave me a call and kind of let me know how it all went down,” Hardy said.

“As a friend and teammate of Nick’s, it sucks to watch him go, but it looks like he’ll be in a good place. We’re all going to miss him, everyone is going to miss him. He’s kind of been the face of the Orioles for the last nine years. He’s put his heart and soul into everything. He played 162 games every year and did what he could. So, yeah, the team is going to miss him and all of his friends are going to miss him.”

Markakis, who couldn’t be reached for comment, wanted to stay with the Orioles and is upset that it didn’t happen. They negotiated down to a three-year deal while seeking assurances that his health would be fine.

Markakis underwent a couple of examinations and waited for the Orioles to increase their offer. A guaranteed fourth year apparently came off the table.

The Braves, who just made the agreement official via Twitter, didn’t share the same concerns.

Markakis missed the 2012 postseason due to a broken thumb and underwent sports hernia surgery and a procedure to remove a broken hamate bone. He was diagnosed in March 2013 with a small disc herniation in his neck and receives treatment for it, but he’s remained in the lineup and atop the order.

“He wanted to be in Baltimore,” Hardy said. “I think everyone knew that. I think that’s why everyone thought something would happen. Everyone assumed he would be back and that a deal would get done, so this was a shock to me and I think probably everyone else. Everyone thought he’d be back.”

The offseason has been a rocky one for the Orioles. Nelson Cruz agreed to a four-year deal with the Mariners and left-hander Andrew Miller is close to signing with another team, the Orioles no where near his demands.

“Obviously, we’re going to miss those three guys, but the offseason has just begun really,” Hardy said. “I feel like there are probably lots of moves to be made. There are holes that need to be filled , but I trust Buck (Showalter). He’s going to do everything he can. And Dan (Duquette) and Peter (Angelos) are going to do everything they can to fill those holes.

“I trust that they’re trying to do everything to make the team still be good, but we’re definitely going to miss those guys.”

It shows on Twitter, where Adam Jones wrote: “U don’t want my opinion!!!!!!!!”

Closer Zach Britton tweeted: “Say it ain’t so....”

“He was a leader in the clubhouse even though he didn’t talk much,” Hardy said in a phone interview. “It was just the way he went about his business. I definitely looked up to him. He changed the way I went about playing the game. I played through pretty much everything I could.”

Markakis has 1,547 career hits, leaving him 27 behind Boog Powell for fifth place on the Orioles’ all-time list. There’s no reason to keep counting.

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