Right fielder Nick Markakis has been begging Orioles managers for years for an opportunity to play first base. Buck Showalter finally obliged Wednesday, and the manager took it a step further by letting Markakis use his mitt. In his first start at the position since he was at Woodstock High in Georgia, Markakis' only defensive blemish on the afternoon was his failure to come up with third baseman Mark Reynolds' high throw on Justin Smoak's ground ball with two outs in the sixth. He handled two grounders and a foul pop-up while playing all nine innings at first in the Orioles' much-needed 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. "I wasn't as nervous as I thought I would be," Markakis said. "I just wanted to get that first ground ball out of the way. I only had the [two] ground balls, but it was fun. I had a good time over there. I'm sure I won't be over there too much longer because we got Derrek [Lee] coming back. … I'm sure I'll be back in right field the next game." His toughest play came in the seventh when Mike Wilson hit a grounder to Markakis' right. He fielded it cleanly and looked to flip it to Jim Johnson, but the Orioles reliever was late getting to the bag, so Markakis took it himself. Replays showed that he beat Wilson by a half step. "It felt good," Markakis said. "It was definitely a change, but you're in the game a lot more. You definitely got to pay attention to what's going on. Overall, I felt comfortable over there." Markakis, who before Wednesday hadn't played anywhere besides the outfield during his five-plus seasons with the Orioles, had an old first baseman's mitt that Showalter referred to as "ratty," prompting the manager to give the normal outfielder his own. Showalter joked before the game that he would get blamed for anything that went wrong, simply because it was his mitt.
Markakis plays first career game at first base
Baltimore Sun | Jun 2