Nick Markakis arrived at spring training this year wondering along with the rest of us just how long it would take for him to rebound from serious abdominal damage and re-establish himself as a major offensive force in the Orioles batting order. The surgery he underwent in January went well, but there was no telling exactly when he would be himself again and — completely healthy or not — what anyone had a right to expect from him after two straight years of unimpressive power and run-production totals. None of that can really be answered in one game, but Markakis came pretty close with a two-run opposite-field homer and a long RBI triple in the Orioles' 4-2 victory before an Opening Day sellout crowd Friday at Camden Yards. Even he seemed a little surprised that he hammered a ball into the left-field bleachers off Minnesota Twins starter Carl Pavano on only the second pitch of his first regular-season at-bat, and only a few months after doctors repaired multiple muscle tears in an area that affects virtually every movement necessary to play baseball at the highest level. "If you look at my home runs,'' Markakis said after the game, "I don't think I had an opposite-field home run last year at all." To be precise, it was actually his first home run to left field since 2008, which was back when he hit 20 or more homers in consecutive seasons and drove in more than 100 runs twice in a three-year span. So, it's impossible to point to a single cause for the decline in his run-production in 2010 and 2011.
Markakis shows signs he could become a power threat again
Baltimore Sun | Apr 7