Nick Markakis hopes to play; Manny Machado says it's 'real hard' not to be on field

We are awaiting official word on the Orioles' Opening Day lineup. The delay surely has to do with right fielder Nick Markakis who has been dealing with a stiff neck the past two days.

He said he had treatment again Monday morning and said he feels "a lot better." But he is going to take swings in batting practice before declaring himself ready.

“I’ve been around long enough to know which injuries I can baby and which injuries I need to take care of. This is one that’s kind of in-between,” Markakis said. “But it got better day by day. So today it feels great and I’m going to go out there and swing. And if it feels good, I’ll play. And if not, I’ll take a day off and have another day off tomorrow.”

Injured third baseman Manny Machado is here and will accept his Gold and Platinum Glove awards before the game. He said he expects to be announced and possibly jog down the orange carpet. Then he'll stay on the bench and cheer on his teammates. But Machado, who is still working his way back from October knee surgery, said it won't be easy to watch and not play.

“It’s real hard. As a player you want to always be there on Opening Day," he said. "Unfortunately, you can’t whether it’s injuries or not making the big leagues. But you always want to play Opening Day so it does hurt a lot.”

He is on the 15-day disabled list now and likely won’t play for the Orioles until sometime in late April. He’ll return to Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday and will continue his rehabilitation. He’s running some and doing drills.

“We’re basically taking it slow," he said. "Running in pools, different exercises, doesn’t necessarily always mean running. We’re trying to get to the point where it is getting better and I can be ready to go. And it is getting better."

With Machado on the disabled list, a roster spot was created and seized by one of Machado’s best friends, 22-year-old rookie Jonathan Schoop. What does Machado think of Schoop being on the Opening Day roster?

“It’s awesome. It’s amazing.”

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