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Nick Markakis missed as Orioles host annual holiday party

The Orioles held their annual holiday party Tuesday at Dave & Buster's at Arundel Mills.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter and current players Steve Pearce and Brad Brach attended the party, as the team hosted 80 kids from Callaway Elementary School. Former Orioles players Chris Hoiles, Al Bumbry and Dave Johnson also attended.

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Students were selected based on standards set by the school, honoring perfect attendance, honor roll students, principal honor roll students, and fifth graders who did well on standarized testing.

One notable person who was missing was Nick Markakis, who often attended the holiday party and in previous years made a financial contribution to purchase gloves for kids at the party.

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Markakis, who had been the longest-tenured Orioles player, signed a four-year, $44 million deal with the Atlanta Braves earlier this month. Showalter said it was different not seeing Markakis at the event. The manager added that he purposely wasn't at the ballpark when Markakis came to clean out his locker Monday because he thought he'd be too emotional.

"Yesterday he came in to clean out his locker, and I knew what time he was going to be there, and I made a point to not be there," Showalter said. "I'm thinking 'bout him here today because I've come here every year, and I look forward to seeing how long his beard is going to be every time here and see if I can recognize him.

"You know, I feel good for his family and you get to a point, you know everybody wanted him back -- the ownership, the front office, obviously the coaches and the players. It just got to a point where it didn't match up with what we had to do. It's a part of the game you don't like, but I try not to think about too much because it tugs at you. When you're around people as much as we're around each other, it's about more than just statistics and playing the game. This wasn't a pure statistical decision and financial commitment and all that stuff. There were just so many factors."

Pearce said he expected Markakis to be back in the outfield next season and was surprised to see him go elsewhere.

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"It can happen to everybody, but it's next person in line," Pearce said. "That's how it goes. It's sad, it stinks, but that's the way baseball works. He's a guy that's been here for a long time, but for the team and the player, they've got to do what's best for their family, and what's best for the team. The organization has guys that can step in and fill those roles."

The Orioles also will need to replace major league home run leader Nelson Cruz and lockdown left-hander Andrew Miller.

The club is banking on added contributions from third baseman Manny Machado and catcher Matt Wieters, who both missed significant time with season-ending injuries, and a rebound year from Chris Davis, who ended the season serving a 25-game suspension for a failed drug test for Adderall.

"I think with the guys we have coming back from injury and the guys who are still here from last year, I think we will be alright," Brach said. "Obviously, it hurts losing guys from the clubhouse, especially Nick and Nelson, but I think what we have coming back and with the guys coming back from injury I think we'll be alright."

Other items to note:

** Showalter said he was told by Davis that he has received a therapeutic-use exemption for the 2015 season. Davis has one game remaining on the 25-game suspension he received for unauthorized use of Adderall.

Davis will serve the final game of the suspension on Opening Day. Davis previously had a TUE when he was playing with the Texas Rangers, but he did not have one last season.

** Another free-agent outfielder went off the board Tuesday when former Oriole Michael Morse signed a two-year deal with the Miami Marlins. But Showalter said there hasn't been a deal signed this offseason that he wished the Orioles had made.

"I haven't seen one yet where I said, 'Golly, I wish we would have done that,'" Showalter said. "I know Dariel Alvarez and Christian Walker and Dylan Bundy, and I could keep going, are pretty happy the way the offseason is going for the Orioles. I'm sure Steve Pearce is and Brad Brach. We're not coveting everybody's guys just to say I've added a charm to my bracelet. I like the charms that are on the bracelet right now.

"We set the groundwork for a lot of things. And there's a lot of things that don't work for us. ... You see the medicals, you see the scouts' reports, you see the information that you gather to try to make good decisions. You don't make it public. There are good reasons for everything. It's a lot hard to say 'no' sometimes than 'yes.' These people that fashion themselves as deal makers because they give more money than everybody else, that's not a deal maker. You give another two years on a contract and a lot more money, what's that got to do with being a deal maker?"

** Showalter said the team's hitting coach search is "moving along." He said he is waiting to hear from one candidate who he is considering before moving to other options.

"I'll tell you what I found: there aren't many people who want to do it," Showalter said. "It's turned into a real challenge physically. You're in the cage all the time. We talk about, we got rained out of BP, it's a day game after a night game, you hit in the cages. Well, they're in there for three hours.

"If you take somebody off your current staff and make him a hitting coach and you take him away from what else they do, what they do well. We don't let just anybody into the fraternity."

** The Orioles signed right-hander Chaz Roe, outfielder Matt Tuiasosopo and right-hander Jesse Beal to minor league deals. They are not expected to be invited to major league camp.

Roe pitched two innings for the New York Yankees last season, posting a 9.00 ERA. He spent most of the season with the Marlins' Triple-A team, going 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA and 14 saves over 64 innings.

Tuiasosopo last played in the majors in 2013 with the Detroit Tigers. He is a career .207/.290/.356 major league hitter in 152 career games. He hit .240/.357/.379 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs between the Triple-A affiliates of the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox.

Beal, the Orioles' 14th-round pick in 2008, re-signed with the organization. He was 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA and four saves over 41 1/3 innings.

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