By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
6:07 PM EDT, August 19, 2013
Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis was dropped to seventh in the lineup on Monday, the first time he has started a game hitting that low since May 6, 2007.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he had a brief discussion with Markakis about the lineup change – the way he would with any player if there’s a change to the norm.
“You let them get a head’s up and what have you,” Showalter said. “So from that standpoint, yeah, not a sit-down (or) whatever. Nicky doesn’t care.”
Markakis, who has led off 30 times this season, batted third 87 times and fifth four times, said Showalter didn’t have to come to him.
“Buck didn’t need to give me an explanation. He does what he wants to do. It doesn’t bother me either way,” Markakis said. “I just want to start making better contact with the ball. And go back to my old self.”
The 29-year-old right fielder is hitting .279 with a .334 on-base percentage and befuddling .367 slugging percentage in 121 games this season heading into Monday. His career slash line is .294/.361/.445.
“I think it’s a thing where I am getting into bad habits. I think all year long I haven’t been taking the approach that I have in the past,” Markakis said. “And it starts with (batting practice). BP is a place you need to work on things instead of going out there and trying to hit them out of the park every time. And I think, for the most part, I’ve gotten away from that.”
Markakis, one of the hardest workers on the team, continues to take extra batting practice and work on his swing. In addition to hitting coach Jim Presley, he’s also been working with his former hitting coach and current special instructor, Terry Crowley, to find his old form.
“Taking BP into the game, it’s two completely different swings. You have a guy throwing 95 compared to a guy throwing 66. And so you get yourself into bad habits and they are just hard to break. And to try to do it in the middle of the season, in August, it’s tough,” Markakis said. “And along with it being August, everybody is tired and we are at the hardest part of the season. And it looks like I am in the toughest situation. And I need to go back to what I usually do. And try not to press too hard.”
The biggest concern involving Markakis is his lack of power. He has just eight home runs and 19 doubles in 491 at-bats and has not had an extra-base hit in 26 games – the longest drought of his career. Last year, in an injury-shortened season, he had 13 homers and 28 doubles. He had 40 or more doubles in each season from 2007 to 2010.
“As far as doubles and homers I’m obviously not where I want to be. But I just need to go back to making consistent contact and driving the ball, instead of blooping the ball and hitting the ball off the end,” Markakis said. “Every hitter goes through it; it’s just a matter of coming out of it and teaching yourself to come out of it and getting out of it as fast as possible. It’s been a tough season. Not team-wise, although team-wise we’ve also had our ups and downs (too).”
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