Markakis primed, healthy to make impact
Showalter believes Orioles outfielder will be successful in 2014
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Nick Markakis is significantly bigger this spring, having added muscle in a pivotal year for the right fielder, who has a club option for 2015.
Coming off the worst season of his career, Markakis is motivated, and for the first time in a while he was able to have a normal winter.
"I think he's in a pretty good place in his life in a lot of ways," said manager Buck Showalter, who could pencil Markakis in as the team's leadoff man. "Health, you can see the way he's moving around compared to the last couple springs, when he was trying to not go too fast to make sure he's ready for Opening Day.
Markakis has played in at least 160 games in four of the last five seasons -- batting .271/.329/.356 with 10 homers and 59 RBIs in 2013, coming off a 2012 campaign in which he had three surgeries.
"I think Nick is going to have a really good year. I do," Showalter said. "I know you can tell he feels good about where he is physically. He's going to have a good year."
Will he stick with that hair, which has grown into some pretty substantial bushy locks?
"Nick shaved this morning and he's got a three-day beard right now," Showalter joked of Markakis, whose coif made waves at the team's FanFest and prompted a reminder to all players about the organization's facial-hair policy.
Yoon arrives to O's camp hungry for action
SARASOTA, Fla. -- A day after being officially introduced, new Orioles pitcher Suk-min Yoon took the field with his new teammates for the first time on Wednesday morning. Yoon did not throw his first bullpen session, as scheduled, with pitching coach Dave Wallace opting to push it back until Thursday to give Yoon a day to adjust.
"It was a lot of fun," Yoon said through his agent, Tad Hun Yo, who served as his interpreter and accompanied him during drills.
Yoon, whose full-time interpreter is slated to arrive on Wednesday night, said he wasn't nervous taking the field and that he has been used to longer workouts. So, Yoon said with a laugh, that he was OK with the physical-shortened full-squad practice.
"This guy has been throwing," manager Buck Showalter said of Yoon, who signed a three-year deal with the Orioles. "He thinks he's ready to go nine innings right now.
"Baseball is baseball. Locker rooms for the most part are locker rooms. I was talking to him yesterday about the food. When I met with him, I didn't talk much baseball ... fortunately his favorite place is In-N-Out Burger. ... He said he was hungry and went back in there [in the team cafeteria] and ate like a guy going to the electric chair."
Gonzalez feeling good after bullpen session
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez threw a 25-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday morning and reported no problems with his lower back.
"I was able to throw some pitches off the mound and I'm happy with that," he said. "I'll be doing everything with the team now. [Thursday], I'll just be playing catch and then Friday, another bullpen, and that's probably going to be 100 percent."
Gonzalez was followed by Kelvin De la Cruz, who has been slowed with a hamstring injury. Both guys pitched on the mound off to the side, with the strings at home plate with bullpen catcher Jett Ruiz (who is auditioning for the job) behind the plate.
'Two Minutes with ...' focuses on Matusz
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The "Two Minutes with ..." series continues with Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz. Baltimore's first-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, spent the entire 2013 season as a reliever, which was the first of his career. The lefty pitched to a 3.53 ERA in 65 games -- 51 innings -- and is being stretched out as a starter again this spring.
Favorite food: Mexican food from the West Coast. It's good in Arizona, but it's better in California. Southern Cal. There's a couple of taco shops right next to University of San Diego, where I went to college. There's one called JV's and there's another one called Super Bronco. A pretty close tie for the best Mexican food in San Diego.
Favorite movie: I think one of the great all-time is Forrest Gump.
If I wasn't a baseball player, I'd be ...
A firefighter. Growing up, I always wanted to be a baseball player, but if that were to fail, I had a lot of friends and friends' dads who were involved in the fire department. Just always thought it would be cool to be part of the community, and help out and be a hero.
Hidden talent: I can juggle, but it's really not that great. Nothing special or spectacular.
Favorite offseason place: To be honest, home in Arizona. After traveling around all season and being on the road three months, well a total of three months out of six months, it's so nice to be able to go home and settle in and relax. But after being home for a while and settling in and whatnot, my favorite spot to go to is San Diego.
Prized possession: There's some memorabilia stuff that is special to me. I have a surfboard that was made up from my college days, it's a USD surfboard that has pictures on it -- done really well -- of all my boys from college. And it has us holding the WCC [West Coast Conference] trophy. These are boys I grinded with for three years in college and some of my best friends now. Someone made it from college, one of the dads put it together and sells it every year at the USD Toreros baseball auction. He makes one every year.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.