With the Orioles in the midst of their champagne and beer spewing celebration Friday night in the visitor’s clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark, one player really stood out — the one guy who seemed to take it as a personal challenge to soak every human being in the room.
That’s what happens when arguably the team’s most competitive player has had to sit out for a month with a broken thumb while his teammates chase an extended playoff run.
So injured right fielder Nick Markakis wrapped his left hand in a plastic baggy and took to the offensive with beer and champagne, spraying it and kicking up the puddles and drenching anyone he could.
“It was fun, but, obviously, I’d like to be in it in other ways a lot more than just celebrating,” said Markakis, who has been sidelined since he was hit by a CC Sabathia fastball on Sept. 8. “But when you get the chance to be able to do it, and do it with this group of guys, it is something special. We have had a tremendous year, and there’s no better way to celebrate it than with a group of guys like this.”
Markakis, 28, had endured six losing seasons, before finally experiencing winning this year. And he’s still holding out hope that he can return if the Orioles make the World Series. That’s probably his only chance to play again in 2012. He’ll have the pins taken out of his thumb Monday in Baltimore but will have to wear his splint for another week or two.
So he has to be a spectator and a cheerleader. And Markakis said that’s OK to an extent, because he wants to soak in the energy of the crowd and the buzz of the playoffs.
“It’s big. [The fans] know it and I’m sure they’ll be out here to support us. I mean, it’s October. It’s in the air. It’s playoff time,” Markakis said. “This city only has baseball and football. And football sure is doing its part over there. So now it is our time. We want to make it a baseball city and have the majority of our games with them really there and appreciating us.”
Reynolds expected to be OK
Showalter said he expected first baseman Mark Reynolds, who was hit by a pitch on the left hand on Friday, to play Sunday.
“I haven’t heard anything yet,” Showalter said. “but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t a player [Sunday] night.”
Reynolds was already playing through pain after fouling a pitch off his big left toe earlier this week. He’s also been hit in the bicep and wrist.
“He’s hilarious,” Showalter said. “You’ve seen he’s a very tough, durable man. … [Head athletic trainer] Richie [Bancells] was actually tapping on the top of it. It was pretty colorful. His response was, ‘Let me take a hammer and slam your knuckle and let me tap on it and see how it feels.’ He didn’t quite say it like that.”
In other injury news, infielder Wilson Betemit took extended batting practice Saturday for the first time since re-aggravating a right wrist injury. Showalter talked as if Betemit was a longshot for the ALDS roster, but he appears to be a more realistic option if the Orioles advance to the American League Championship Series.