After charmed time in Charm City, Markakis returns
Veteran receives ovation, bangs two hits in first game back in Baltimore
BALTIMORE -- When Nick Markakis ended his long tenure in Baltimore by signing a four-year, $44 million deal with the Braves in December, he gained a better understanding of baseball's business aspect. But he did not lose the admiration of many of those who spent time with him as he completed the first nine seasons of his Major League career with the Orioles.
Markakis got a sense of this as he played the Orioles for the first time in his career on Monday night at Camden Yards. Though the experience was blemished when Baltimore claimed a 2-1, 11-inning victory, the veteran outfielder will never forget the loud, stirring ovation he received just before he began the game with an opposite-field double.
"These fans have been great to me throughout my career," Markakis said. "Tonight just shows what type of fans they are and how loyal they are. It was pretty cool."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has quickly learned why Orioles manager Buck Showalter has such great admiration for Markakis, who was also honored with a video tribute that played before the bottom of the second inning.
"They don't give people that kind of ovation if you're a turd," Gonzalez said. "He's a solid guy and the people here in Baltimore love him. … They do that to good people and good players."
Though Showalter might have wanted to keep Markakis in his clubhouse as long as possible, the Orioles were unwilling to match Atlanta's offer because of concerns about a herniated disk that was repaired via neck surgery in December.
Markakis added an eighth-inning single to cap a two-hit performance that was somewhat expected from Showalter, who before the game predicted that his former player would probably "get about nine hits" in this three-game series. "The guy is very easy to get close to and respect," Showalter said. "The consistency in the way he grinds, they know what they are getting every day. He is a good baseball player, good father, good husband, he's solid."
Markakis plans to maintain his family residence in Baltimore. But though he has occasionally been frustrated by the physical limitations he has had coming back from the major surgical procedure, the 31-year-old has found comfort playing back in Atlanta, where he attended both high school and college.
"Anything can happen, it's a business," Markakis said. "I understand the business aspect better right now. It's a tough thing to go through, especially when you're attached to a baseball team and an organization for so long. It was a little hard at first. It took a little time to get over it."
"I'm here in Atlanta now and I'm happy where I am," Markakis said. "We've got a good group of guys that we work with every day."