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Markakis primed, healthy to make impact

Showalter believes Orioles outfielder will be successful in 2014

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Nick Markakis is significantly bigger this spring, having added muscle in a pivotal year for the right fielder, who has a club option for 2015.

Coming off the worst season of his career, Markakis is motivated, and for the first time in a while he was able to have a normal winter.

"I think he's in a pretty good place in his life in a lot of ways," said manager Buck Showalter, who could pencil Markakis in as the team's leadoff man. "Health, you can see the way he's moving around compared to the last couple springs, when he was trying to not go too fast to make sure he's ready for Opening Day.

Markakis has played in at least 160 games in four of the last five seasons -- batting .271/.329/.356 with 10 homers and 59 RBIs in 2013, coming off a 2012 campaign in which he had three surgeries.

"I think Nick is going to have a really good year. I do," Showalter said. "I know you can tell he feels good about where he is physically. He's going to have a good year."

Will he stick with that hair, which has grown into some pretty substantial bushy locks?

"Nick shaved this morning and he's got a three-day beard right now," Showalter joked of Markakis, whose coif made waves at the team's FanFest and prompted a reminder to all players about the organization's facial-hair policy.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
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