SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis hit off a tee, threw and ran at the team's spring facility on Friday in his first day of baseball activities since suffering a small disk herniation in his neck earlier this month.
"He's got that grin on his face where he's going, 'Why are we doing this? Why don't we just start playing games?'" manager Buck Showalter said of Markakis, who last played March 1 and is targeting being ready for Opening Day.
To do that, Markakis will play in a lot of games at the Minor League complex. He will progress to some soft toss on Saturday and could hit batting practice off some of the coaches on Sunday.
"Don't hold me to it, but that's what the plan is," said Showalter, who sat down with Markakis several days ago to map out a schedule that will have him getting at-bats starting next week.
Markakis was cleared on Thursday after speaking with spine specialist Dr. Lee Riley. He's been receiving regular treatment and is pain free with full range of motion returned in his neck and upper back. Markakis has played in four games this Grapefruit League season, going 3-for-12 with an RBI and two strikeouts, and he will probably lead off in multiple Minor League games to catch him up to speed.
Slated to be the team's starting right fielder, Markakis has played in at least 160 games in three of the last four seasons.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less