BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 1: Nick Markakis #21 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates hitting a solo home run in the seventh inning during a baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates in game one of a doubleheader on May 1, 2014 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles won 5-1. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
The Baltimore Orioles have developed a reputation around baseball for having one of, if not the, best defenses in the Majors. Right fielder Nick Markakis is one of the main reasons why they have that stigma.
Among being a consistent hitter, it’s well documented that Markakis is a clubhouse leader, which explains why he had mixed feelings when the club acquired relief pitcher Andrew Miller from Boston an exchange for prospect Eduardo Rodriguez.
“We know what to expect and it’s part of the business. People come and go all the time in this game. Unfortunately sometimes you have to give up your own players to get better in the now,” Markakis admitted.
However, the all-star did praise Miller for what he brings to the Orioles.
“He’s a thorn in the side for a left-handed hitter. He’s just as effective on [right-handers], too. That bodes well for our team.”
Miller might see his first action in the orange and white against Seattle when the Mariners come to Baltimore. Seattle’s Roenis Elias will see the Orioles for the second time in two weeks, but Markakis claims that won’t lessen the challenge of facing the young pitcher.
“You’d like to think it helps, but he’s got a great arm, and [with] the pitchers we’ve been seeing lately it’s nothing different. It’s a constant battle, and we just have to be ready.”
In the opposite dugout, arguably the best aspect of the Orioles’ roster has been their bullpen. Leaders such as Markakis acknowledge how important their solid performance has been.
“Those guys are pretty close. They stick together and work together and feed off each other. I can tell you it’s been fun playing defense behind them, too.”
“Back when I came up, you wanted to get to the bullpen, but now the game has changed. Everyone has power arms in the bullpen and you want the starters to stay in. I think we’ve got one of the best bullpens in baseball,” Markakis added.
Essentials such as the bullpen are most critical when the baseball season winds down to October, but getting to that point with all players healthy is often a challenge.
“July and August are probably the toughest months, because it’s hot and you still have a lot of baseball left. In September and October, you’re pretty much running off adrenaline,” Markakis said.
“You have to take care of yourself and take care of nagging injuries, because it’s a battle.”
The Orioles are holding down first place in the AL east, and the remainder of the regular season will be a battle indeed.