Markakis' Injury Heartbreak On Several Levels
In a word: huge.
Last night, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis knew right away that his left thumb was broken after a pitch from New York Yankees starter CC Sabathia hit it.
Markakis recovered from offseason abdominal surgery to make it back for Opening Day. Then, he missed about a month when he slid into a base and broke a hamate bone in his right hand.
He returned to the team after the All-Star break and filled a gap in the Orioles' leadoff spot. He didn't just become a warm body. He became one of the best leadoff hitters in baseball, batting .335 since the break.
Markakis has been through everything with the Orioles during the last seven years, and it hasn't been pretty. The Orioles and Markakis found a real spark during the second half of the season. He was helping fuel the club's 23-12 record in August and September.
Sabathia didn't appear to be intentionally coming after Markakis, but there is no doubt that Markakis' absence from the lineup the rest of the season could have a significant impact on the race between these two teams.
The Orioles began to buy into themselves as not just a playoff contender, but perhaps something even bigger. Markakis has been the heart and soul of the organization for several years, even if many doubt he's lived up to his big contract extension from three years ago.
He deserves to be in this chase. He believed in Baltimore's baseball future, but will have to watch it unfold from the dugout.
Posted Sept. 9, 2012