SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — Nick Markakis had a successful return to the Baltimore Orioles’ lineup after offseason surgery — even if he didn’t have a hit.
Markakis was hitless in three at-bats in his first game since January surgery to repair a torn muscle in his abdomen and the Orioles lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-5 on Wednesday.
Markakis left the final game of the 2011 season with an injury to his abdomen. He tried to rehabilitate it, but had surgery on Jan. 5. Manager Buck Showalter started him for the first time as the designated hitter. He struck out, grounded out and walked before leaving the game after five innings.
“I was just happy to get out there, get some at-bats and start this thing off right. And get it going in the right direction,” Markakis said. “No pain. The biggest thing was I wasn’t too worried about baseball activity, I just wanted to see how my body would react to my natural reactions. It was fine, I didn’t get to run. But we still got time for that.”
Showalter said he would play Markakis in right field for the first time on March 20.
The Pirates scored four runs in the second off Orioles starter Jake Arrieta, who pitched 2 2/3 innings. They added three in the fifth and four in the seventh.
“I made quite a few good pitches,” Arrieta said.
In his first start on March 8, Arrieta sailed through two hitless innings but was more erratic in his second start — even if he was happy with how he threw.
“I was real happy with a lot today, especially the way I was able to throw out of the windup. Everything in the windup was incredible. Like I said, it’s just a matter of finding that rhythm and that tempo from the stretch. And once I find that, things will really get rolling.”
Pittsburgh’s James McDonald allowed five runs and six hits in three innings. In three spring starts, McDonald has allowed eight runs and nine hits in eight innings.
“You could tell by watching. I didn’t feel too good,” McDonald said. “Got to keep the ball down. They put good swings on the ball. I’ve got to execute better. I’ve just got to make better pitches. These are big league hitters. If you throw bad pitches, they’re going to make you pay — spring training or regular season — it didn’t matter.”
Manager Clint Hurdle didn’t give McDonald a pass.
“Today was mediocre,” Hurdle said. “The problems he had was he was behind in counts, the ball got
up and flattened out. He didn’t have much command today and didn’t have any secondary pitches to go to. The positives to take is that he threw 60 pitches. But he’s got things on his to do list that he’s still got to take care of.”
NOTES: Orioles C Taylor Teagarden had a CT scan and received an epidural injection in his strained back. Showalter said he is in jeopardy of missing the start of the season. The Pirates are off on Thursday. LHP Erik Bedard will pitch four innings of a Triple-A game at Pirate City in Bradenton. Baltimore RHPs Jim Johnson and Willie Eyre each pitched an inning in their first appearances of the spring. Johnson allowed three runs and four hits and Eyre four runs and four hits in 2/3 of an inning. Johnson had a lower back injury. Eyre had a groin injury. Orioles LHP Tsuyoshi Wada threw 33 pitches in a simulated game and will pitch in a minor league game either Sunday or Monday.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)