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Orioles RF Nick Markakis is in tight race for spot in All-Star game

By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

10:50 PM EDT, July 5, 2013

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Major League Baseball will announce All Star rosters Saturday, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Fox. The Orioles have three virtual locks to start with outfielder Adam Jones, first baseman Chris Davis and shortstop J.J. Hardy.

But right fielder Nick Markakis is in a battle with Toronto’s Jose Bautista and Detroit’s Torii Hunter for the third and final starting spot in the outfield. According to the most recent tallies, Bautista is third in the outfield with 2,679,230 votes, Markakis was fourth with 2,536,864 and Hunter had 2,390,336.

With several deserving outfield candidates in the league and the Orioles already well represented, Markakis may not be chosen for his first Midsummer Classic if he is not voted in. And the Orioles would love to see him make it.

“I think everybody is pulling for him. I know his teammates are. Nicky’s never been the type of guy that would [admit] it would mean something,” Showalter said. “He’d say, ‘Well, I’ll get to spend the time with my two boys and my wife, who is due here shortly. And he’d be fine with that. Nicky’s not into self-satisfaction. He sincerely cares about us doing well. And he’d never say it publicly, but I think it would mean as much to us as it would to him.”

If Markakis were to be elected, it would be the first time the Orioles had four elected starters in their history. Four Orioles started the 1970 All Star game, but only two were elected. Although highly unlikely, the Orioles conceivably could have as many as seven All Stars with catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Manny Machado and starter Chris Tillman all having arguments for inclusion. The most All Stars in franchise history was seven in 1970.

“Does it help us win more games? No. So that’s kind of … the way I’d look at it,” Showalter said. “But more than anything I’d like to see them get rewarded and realize there is recognition for what they are doing.”

Around the horn


Tillman, Saturday’s starter, has won a career-high seven straight decisions. The last Orioles’ starter to do that was Brian Matusz from August 2010 to June 6, 2011. The last Oriole to win at least eight straight was Erik Bedard, who won nine consecutive in 2007. The last right-hander to capture eight straight decisions for the Orioles was Mike Mussina in 1997. … Outfielder Lew Ford (groin surgery in June) is beginning baseball activities, Showalter said. … Infield prospect Jonathan Schoop (back) is still on schedule to play in a game next Thursday for either the Gulf Coast League Orioles or at Aberdeen.