Orioles in the clear on Markakis claim
It's a new spring-training tradition! Players firing shots at their former teams as they suit up with their new clubs. Nick Markakis, former Baltimore Oriole and current Atlanta Brave, is the latest to join the fray.
"Don't believe a word they say," Markakis told USA TODAY on Wednesday. "It was all because of my neck. They can say what they want to make them look good. It's all B.S."
Markakis wanted to return to Baltimore, where he'd spent his entire career, and the Orioles wanted him. While length of contract was an issue for Baltimore -- Markakis ultimately got a four-year deal from the Braves -- a bulging disk in Markakis' neck was probably the bigger reason they didn't re-sign him.
Baltimore has been especially sensitive to signing players with injury risk. They pulled out of agreed deals last year with Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin over injury concerns. After Markakis signed with the Braves, the Orioles admitted they had a similar concern about Markakis.
The b.s. Markakis referenced is the belief that the Orioles did not re-sign Markakis strictly because of length of contract; he believes it was because of his neck. The Orioles have admitted as much after the fact.
What's important here is that the Orioles never said a word about Markakis' neck before he signed with someone else. That would have potentially done some damage to Markakis in free agency.
In the end, the Orioles did nothing wrong. Not publicly mentioning an injury is the right thing to do, whether a player wants to believe that or not.