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Markakis scratched with neck stiffness (Machado, roster moves, Schoop, Norfolk)

Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis has been scratched from Saturday’s exhibition with Triple-A Norfolk because of neck stiffness.

Markakis said he had no discomfort early this morning, then dealt with neck stiffness while on the flight from Sarasota, Fla.

“I was fine getting on the plane, but as soon as we took off, it stiffened up on me,” Markakis said. 

Markakis dealt with a slightly herniated disk in his neck last March and he said doctors have told him that he could have “sporadic flare-ups” in the neck. But he said he isn’t worried and expects to be fine for Monday’s season opener against the Boston Red Sox.

“I've never had this before a game, but if I had to, I could probably play,” he said.

Markakis was walking around the clubhouse with a heat pack wrapped around his neck like “a mummy,” according to manager Buck Showalter. It was “entertaining” on Saturday, but wouldn’t be on Monday, the manager said.

** Showalter is hoping to make his final cuts before the team leaves Norfolk but said things could change if executive vice president Dan Duquette makes some last-minute moves. The roster has to be submitted by Sunday afternoon.

“We are trying to have some last-minute conversations, in contact with Dan. A lot of things, as you all well know, are flying around this time of year,” Showalter said. “I’m real careful about telling somebody something that I don’t know is going to come to pass for sure. And I want them to feel confident when I tell them something that it’s going to happen.”

** The roster is basically set, but it hasn’t been announced.  Showalter was asked specifically about rookie infielder Jonathan Schoop, who is expected to make the team.

“We’ll have something there shortly,” Showalter said. “The players understand at this level what’s going on. And a guy like Jon, I think he feels confident that it’s going to be when as opposed to if.”

** Showalter said injured third baseman Manny Machado has left the team to attend a funeral in Miami. He’ll be back with the club Monday to receive his Gold Glove and Platinum Glove Awards and then will return to Sarasota to continue rehabbing his surgically repaired left knee.

** Showalter said the team had three contingency plans because of the rain in Norfolk on Friday and Saturday, but ultimately felt it could get some of the game in.

“It’s an honor to be asked to come here and represent the (organization),” Showalter said. “The bottom line is if it’s important to the fans it should be important to us. That’s how you look at it.”

** Showalter said the club may have to work out indoors Sunday because of rain in Baltimore.

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