Feeling good, Markakis in lineup for opener

Feeling good, Markakis in lineup for opener

BALTIMORE -- Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis never doubted he would run out on the orange carpet as an Opening Day starter, and that's exactly what the 28-year-old --- roughly three months removed from abdominal surgery -- did Friday shortly before 3 p.m. ET.

"Physically, I'm about as good as I can be right now," said Markakis, who added that there was "absolutely not" a chance he'd miss the start of the season. "It's just a matter of getting out there and playing now. All the rehab and hard work in Spring Training is all behind me and I can now focus on the season."

Markakis -- who hit a two-run shot off the Twins' Carl Pavano in the first inning -- was brought along slowly this spring, playing in eight games and hitting .250 (6-for-24) with two homers and three RBIs. He made his debut in the field in mid-March after serving at designated hitter.

"I thought it went well in spring," said Markakis, who has identified his first crossover step in the field as one of his biggest challenges. "I feel like I had enough at-bats and enough innings in the field and it all leads up to this day now, and I am ready to kick it off."

Markakis -- who had surgery in January to repair a torn abductor muscle -- is coming off a season in which he hit .284 with 15 homers and 73 RBIs in 160 games and was awarded a Rawlings Gold Glove along with catcher Matt Wieters during Friday's pregame ceremony. Asked if he felt the same as he did to open last year, Markakis said he felt close.

"Obviously there are some things down there that I could tell I had surgery, but that is going to take a while to get out of there," he said. "But I am pain free and I feel pretty flexible and I am pretty excited where I am right now."