Despite making only two starts and playing three games at first base in his nine-season big league career, Nick Markakis said he enjoys playing first on occasion.

"Yeah, it's a lot shorter run than it is in the outfield," joked Markakis, who has played 1,198 games in right field in his career.

With slugging first baseman Chris Davis suffering a left oblique injury Friday and no obvious backup on the 25-man roster, Markakis was called on to start at first on Saturday against the Kansas City Royals.

"It's another baseball position," said Markakis, who hadn't started at first since Sept. 4, 2011, at Tampa Bay. "You've got to catch the ball and throw the ball. It's a little different than in the outfield, but we'll see how it goes and hope for the best."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter asked Markakis for his thoughts Friday night about potentially playing at first. Markakis said Showalter didn't need to run it by him.

"He knows that I am always available to play there if he needs me and we are in a situation where we need to expand our positions a little bit and I am all for it," Markakis said.

Showalter said it was a brief conversation.

"I knew what Nick's response was going to be, 'What do you need?'" Showalter said. "Or, 'What do we need?' More importantly, is what he says."

Showalter wouldn't commit to using Markakis at first exclusively while Davis is out with the injury. Showalter also has Ryan Flaherty, who filled in Friday after Davis left. Steve Clevenger could play first, too, but he is also the club's only backup catcher.

Markakis said that as soon as Davis went out of Friday's game he figured he might be needed to play first at some point this weekend.

"It's always in the back of your mind, but we have a lot of guys who can play the position," Markakis said. "[Flaherty] did a great job yesterday, and I'm sure there will be a revolving door at first base until CD gets his feet back under him."

Around the horn

Right-hander Kevin Gausman threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings for Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday night against Columbus. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out five batters. The 23-year-old threw 75 pitches, 51 for strikes, and lowered his season ERA to 2.53. ... Showalter said he "would never say never" about the possibility of catcher Matt Wieters subbing in at first base on occasion, but said he'd be concerned about a first-timer's footwork during a big league game if he's never played first before as a pro. So that scenario seems unlikely. … Showalter said Johan Santana (shoulder) will throw 45 pitches over roughly three innings in a simulated game Monday in Sarasota, Fla and then one inning or 15 to 20 pitches on Saturday, May 3 in an extended spring game. … Davis' career-long streak of reaching base in 20 consecutive games was snapped Friday. … Wieters' throwing error Friday snapped his streak of consecutive errorless games at 99 (95 starts).

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