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Orioles

Ex-Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis on his relationship with Peter Angelos and more

Former Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis.

I had a chance to talk at length with former Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis on Monday, shortly after he packed up the remaining items that were in his locker at Camden Yards.

Markakis, who signed a four-year, $44 million deal with the Atlanta Braves earlier this month, will undergo neck fusion surgery Wednesday in Atlanta. The surgery will include the removal of a bulging disk, and Markakis expects to be out six to eight weeks before he can return to baseball activities.

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When the naturally reserved Markakis was a rookie in 2006, he didn't make eye contact with reporters. He gradually became more comfortable with the media, though he never has enjoyed the spotlight. By his last few seasons, he had become a good interview, intently contemplating questions and offering thoughtful answers. I wrote an initial article for Tuesday's newspaper after speaking with him Monday, but here are some extra quotes from the interview.

Markakis on whether it was solely a choice between the Orioles and the Braves:

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Could I have gone elsewhere? I'm sure I could have gone elsewhere, but I wasn't pushing one way or the other. My focus was on the Orioles, and I was putting my attention toward them, and I was just put in a situation where the Braves came in and they did everything right, made me feel comfortable, and made me feel good about my decision. It's a tough decision to leave an organization that you are rooted in, and that's all you know. It was definitely a tough decision, but hopefully, between me and my wife, we are pretty sure we made the right decision. I'm going to start a new chapter in my life. I wouldn't take anything back from what I did in that organization. I had a great time. I grew as a major league baseball player and as an Oriole. And I'll always have that.

Markakis on growing up near Atlanta, watching the Braves play:

I watched the guys in Atlanta for a long time while growing up, and you learn from that. You watch and you're a sponge. I'm not saying all the credit for what I have done is from watching guys on the Braves play. But … they do have an impact on you for what you do in the game now and how you play the game.

On what it meant for Braves representatives to come to Baltimore to talk to him:

Commitment, comfort, everything that you pretty much want to hear as a baseball player going to a new team. I truly believe them. They do things right there, and I've watched them for a long time, and I know they're not just feeding me BS.

On his and his wife's decision to continue to raise their children in Baltimore:

This is the city and state that gave me the opportunity to be the person that I am today. And I like to be a loyal person. They've been great to me, the people in the community. Everything just fits in. We feel welcomed here. We love it. The boys love where they are, school-wise, community-wise. We love who we work with charity-wise. We just feel it is a good fit for us and we love where we live.

On his relationship with Orioles principal owner Peter G. Angelos:

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It was good. He was understanding. He listened when I talked to him. He gave me every opportunity in life to be where I am now. I'm very, very grateful; very thankful for that and there are no hard feelings. Sometimes it's out of control of everybody's hands. What he did for me, I will never, ever forget, and it will never be taken away. He gave me opportunities in life I may never, ever have gotten if it weren't for him. They can't take that from me. And I appreciate everything that he did, and I have no hard feelings at all toward him. It's a business, and I understand that.

On no longer playing next to center fielder Adam Jones:

It's going to be different, definitely. Jonesy and I played together for a long time. We played in the [Arizona] Fall League together. We played together in the big leagues for seven seasons. I played beside him pretty much every day. It's going to be a big adjustment playing next to somebody new. I knew what Jonesy was capable of doing, what he could get to. We couldn't have communicated better out there. It's going to be tough, but this game is about adjustments. You have to go out and make adjustments, not only to the pitcher or defensively, but you have to make adjustments to your teammates. How they play will be different. But everything will work itself out, I believe that.

On his relationship with Orioles fans:

You don't want to win just for yourself. You want to win, but to see the fans react the way they do, the smiles and everything that they bring to the ballpark every day when we are playing, you couldn't ask for anything more. It is 100 percent the fans -- that is what this job is about. To see kids come to the ballpark and watch you play, they are paying to watch you play. What other way is there to thank them and repay them then to go out there and play and do your job the way you are supposed to do?

On providing leadership in Atlanta:

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I'm just going to bring what I brought to the Orioles. I'm not going to change anything. I'm going to do what I always do. Go about my business, play the game, do things the right way and hopefully that rubs off. I'm not going to be in there hooting and hollering and telling people they need to do this or that. That's not going to happen. I need to focus on staying healthy and helping them out any way I can.

On why he and his family took out a two-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun after signing elsewhere:

It was just to let the fans know how I feel. I wanted to thank them. Like I said, if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be in the situation I am today. And I wanted to make sure that they knew that. And I am thankful for everything they have done for me and my family. They won't be forgotten, and we will see what the future holds. You never know in this game.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun


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