SARASOTA, Fla. — The Orioles have an afternoon game against the Pittsburgh Pirates today at home and they'll get to face the Bucs' top prospect, former No. 1 pick Gerrit Cole.
They are rolling out a pretty representative starting lineup against a right-hander, with the exception of Adam Jones, who is playing in the WBC, and Nick Markakis, who is dealing with neck stiffness and will get a MRI on Monday. The Orioles also won't have Chris Tillman, who was supposed to start Sunday but was scratched with abdomen soreness.
Markakis, who hasn't played since March 1, said he has spoken with team orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens and doesn't believe the nagging injury is a major concern.
"Doc said they don't think it's anything too serious and that's what we're hoping for, but we just want to identify what it is," Markakis said. "I think it's just some muscle tightness, but we'll definitely find out tomorrow."
Markakis said Wednesday that he could play with the spasms and stiffness in his neck if it were the regular season. But the next day the conditioned worsened, he said.
"That day I was feeling good. I woke up the next morning pretty locked up or tight or whatever you want to call it," he said. "But I'm better today than I was yesterday, so it's going in the right direction."
Tillman said he also believes the muscle tightness he is feeling on his left side is a minor setback.
"It's just a precautionary thing in my side. It kind of flared up the other day," said Tillman, who is expected to claim a rotation spot. "I think, just to be safe, I just want to take it easy for now. Nothing big, but I'm not going to downplay it either. Nothing I'm really worried about. Just want to be safe."
He said it is not the dreaded strained oblique muscle – which has a tendency to sideline players for weeks. Instead, he said it's more in "the center of my belly. Glad it's not (the) oblique, that's a good thing."
Tillman hopes to pitch again in a few days.
Here is the Orioles' lineup versus the Pirates: Roberts 4, McLouth 7, Wieters 2, Davis 3, Betemit DH, Hardy 6, Dickerson 8, Machado 5, Flaherty 9. Gonzalez 1.