By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun
7:26 PM EST, February 24, 2012
SARASOTA, Fla. —
Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis, who is recovering from offseason abdominal surgery, participated in the team's first full-squad workout Friday at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, taking live outdoor batting practice as well as taking part in outfield fielding drills.
Markakis said he's far from full strength but feels no pain swinging the bat. If anything, it's his lateral movement while fielding balls that needs improvement.
"I know I'm not there, but [I'm] on schedule or maybe a little ahead of schedule, depending on how you look at it," Markakis said. "Everything feels good, it's just a matter of getting my strength back down there now. At times I'm sore, but I got to work through that and strengthen where I am weak right now. It's a slow process, but it's coming along."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said the team has tried to restrict Markakis' activity — his swings in the cage were limited, as was the difficulty of balls hit to him.
"He thinks we're way overcautious right now," Showalter said. "I don't know how happy he is with us right now. He's right where he needs to be. Now we just have to keep the reins on him."
Showalter wouldn't put a timetable on when he'll play his first spring game, but Markakis and Showalter agree that the right fielder won't need many spring training at-bats to be ready for the season. Markakis said he's comfortable with just four to five games under his belt.
"It [stinks], but you got to understand your injury and the benefits of taking it easy," Markakis said. "You don't want to go out there and reinjure yourself or have any setbacks because you are going to be pushing it close anyway to Opening Day. But we should get there as planned right now."
Orioles take in a movie
The team boarded buses Thursday night and went to a local movie theater to watch a 20-minute video montage of their 2011 season — which included highs and lows and included the Orioles' walk-off win over the Red Sox in the season finale that knocked Boston out of playoff contention.
"The cool thing is that when you get to see that game again, you get goose bumps that entire time because you were there and you remember what that felt like," pitcher Zach Britton said. "I think everyone who was here remembers that and enjoyed that."
The video ended with a pep talk from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. Wearing a new cartoon-bird Orioles cap and jersey, Lewis gave the team a message about competition and being accountable.
The video was the idea of Showalter, who has previously taken his teams on motivational trips early in spring training camp.
Berken shut down
Right-hander Jason Berken, one of 30 pitchers in camp, has been shut down indefinitely after suffering a left hamstring strain during running drills Wednesday.
Berken, who received treatment Friday, said he considered himself "day to day."
"I've never had a hamstring injury before, so I really have no idea what to expect," Berken said. "But I don't think it's going to be one of those things that's going to keep me out for an extended period of time. I'm optimistic that it'll heal up soon, and I'll do whatever I can to make that happen.
"It's nothing that I'm overly concerned about. It's definitely more than just like stretch it out and ice it for a day and be ready to go. Every day you hope it gets better and better and be back soon."
Around the horn
Right-hander Willie Eyre, a nonroster invitee, discontinued his bullpen session Friday after feeling pain in his groin. It appears to be precautionary because Eyre has had groin issues in the past. … With second baseman Brian Roberts still being held out of most activities, Robert Andino took grounders with the starters for the majority of the workout. Ryan Adams also took some balls there. Newcomer Wilson Betemit took grounders at third alongside Mark Reynolds. Nonroster invitee Nick Johnson was at first with Chris Davis. … Catcher Matt Wieters caught top prospect Dylan Bundy's bullpen session and said he continues to be impressed with the 19-year-old. "Another good bullpen session," Wieters said. … Showalter said minor league catcher Caleb Joseph is expected to join camp Sunday. The Orioles are still awaiting Ronny Paulino, who is having visa issues and hasn't reported to camp. … Britton (shoulder inflammation) made 120 throws Friday as part of the tail end of his second session of back-to-back throwing days. He will take Saturday off, then throw three straight days for the first time.
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