Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis was very outspoken against PED users when asked about the then impending Biogenesis suspensions last summer. Will that stance be altered in any way now that Nelson Cruz, who received a 50-game ban for his involvement with Biogenesis, has a signed a one-year, $8 million deal with Baltimore?
According to Markakis, not a chance. He feels just as strong now as he did then, but he also understands the importance of putting his team first and accepting players he may not agree with on a personal or professional level as part of the family.
“He’s my teammate now and I got to be a teammate, and no matter if you disagree or agree with your teammates they are still your teammates,” said Markakis. “He’s going to be welcome here and we are going to play as one. That’s for sure.”
For those who may not remember how strongly Markakis feels about PED users, here are a couple quotes he offered to the Baltimore Sun last August.
“No ifs, ands or buts about it. These guys are big boys; they can make decisions. If I go out there and rob a convenience store, I know the consequences that are coming with it. We are all adults here.”
“These guys that are doing performance-enhancing drugs are taking away from a lot of other people that are doing it the right way. They are taking opportunities away and they are basically stealing. Stealing money away from owners because they are basically purchasing damaged products. It’s not a good situation all the way around. And all of us that have done it the right way, we are going to suffer and have to answer questions about this for a while now. I think that puts us in bad situations that we don’t deserve to be in.”
Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz are both right fielders by trade. Wouldn't it be interesting if Cruz ended stealing away some of Markakis' playing time and/or opportunities? It's bound to happen at some point, though it's anticipated Cruz will settle into regular designated hitter duties initially.
In the meantime, Markakis, who's currently the Orioles' longest-tenured player and a clubhouse leader, will continue pushing the team first aspect...
“I’m aware of what’s going on and what’s been going on in baseball. But my opinion doesn’t change toward anything. He’s part of this team now and he’s going to be in this clubhouse and we’re going to welcome him just like anybody else. He’s going to be part of this team.”
But he also indicates Cruz could have his work cut out for him fitting into the Orioles clubhouse and culture.
“We know how things go on in this clubhouse, we know how we do things, and we do things certain ways,” Markakis said. “Guys coming in here are going to have to adjust to that. It’s not just about making adjustments in the batters box and on the pitchers mound, it’s making adjustments to a new clubhouse, a new team, and so forth. There’s adjustments, not just on the field but off the field, too.”
In other words, there may not be much of a honeymoon period if Cruz comes in and rubs people the wrong way. A good first impression and a willingness to adapt to Baltimore's style — whatever that might be — will be critical if he hopes to earn his new teammate's respect and their complete acceptance.
Time will tell how it works out, but it certainly makes for an interesting dynamic that will have our attention as spring training marches on.
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