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Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis says he's still 'a couple days' away from returning

SARASOTA, Fla. — Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said Tuesday that the stiffness in his neck is getting better, but he added that he will likely still be out of the team’s starting lineup for at least the next few days.

“It’s safe to say a couple more days,” Markakis said. “If the season was going on today, I would probably be able to play today, but its spring so we’ll take it easy, nice and slow, no rush.”

Markakis was scratched from the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates when he woke up with a stiff neck.

“I don’t know if I did it lifting or something, but I just went home a couple nights ago and started getting a pain in my neck and I tried to stretch it out and that didn’t help, obviously,” Markakis said. “The next morning I woke up and it was real stiff and bothering me. I’ve never had anything like it, so I didn’t know what to expect.

Markakis, who hasn’t done any baseball activity since Sunday, said he couldn’t move his neck at all that morning. He said it affects most of his movements, side to side and up and down.

“The good thing is I wasn’t getting any numbness or any pain down my arm or leg or anything, so we’ve kind of ruled out anything with a disc probably,” Markakis said. “That’s good. Today’s better than yesterday, so that’s all we can hope for and we move on from there.

“I’ll get my treatment and hopefully I’ll be out there in a couple days.”

Markakis, who traditionally doesn’t need many spring training at-bats to get ready for the season, is 3-for-12 with one RBI and two walks in four Grapefruit League games.

He went into the last season having played in at least 160 games in four of the previous five seasons, but he underwent three surgeries in 2012, including a season-ending left thumb surgery in early September after he was hit by a fastball from the New York Yankees' CC Sabathia.

The Orioles play at home on Wednesday and Thursday, and then don't play at Ed Smith Stadium again until Sunday. Veteran starters usually don't make road trips early in spring training.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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