Originally posted on Oriole Post  |  Last updated 3/13/12

This afternoon, the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays played to a 7-7 tie in Sarasota, FL.

Baltimore’s offense this spring has been fairly anemic; however, they came through on Tuesday. They trounced Rays’ starter David Price – who went 3 2/3 innings and gave up four runs – in his outing for some early action.

They scored four times in the second innings as Ronny Paulino plated in a run, and Jai Miller hit a three-run homer.

Jason Hammel, in his second outing of the spring, pitched well. He gave up a solo homer to Matt Joyce; however, went three innings and only allowed a hit, plus a walk.

Brad Bergesen also was solid on the afternoon, going three scoreless innings; however, the bullpen got into a mess during the latter portion of the game.

Leading 5-2 in the ninth inning with the game in hand, Baltimore allowed the Tampa Bay to score five times in the frame due to some poor pitching and errors; however, they scored twice in the bottom of the ninth.

Steve Johnson stopped the bleeding by pitching a scoreless 10th inning; sadly,  the Orioles could not get the win despite having the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth.

Well, the Orioles play the Pirates on Wednesday, and it will feature the return of Nick Markakis. For many fans, including myself, seeing Markakis on the field would be a welcome thing. It doesn’t look like Markakis will be playing the field, but will serve as a designated hitter until the team believes he is ready.

Markakis did win a Gold Glove last season, and has always been the steady type when it comes to fielding; however, his work at the plate has left a lot of questions.

Markakis has done decent over the last few years, but his expected production in comparison to what he did earlier has left many wondering if the slugger is really all that good? He is – gasp – regressing and not going forward? Is one of the core players we’ve all been hearing about not all that he’s cracked up to be?

It certainly doesn’t help that Markakis is in the middle of a six-year, $66 million contract and has not played to that level he is being paid – in my opinion.

He struck out an awful lot last year, and has seen his on-base percentage drop a bit. However, Markakis can still hit and get on base, but in the end, can he regain the promise that was so evident early, or not? Over time, I though suffered from a lack of protection, having a lot of pressure on him and being in a sub-par lineup.

Then again, could Markakis be what he is now? A player who will hit for average, some power and get on-base on a good clip, but may not be more than that?

Considering he’s 27 now, probably not. I think he is what he is, and some of the sabermetricians know may know better than I.

Really, most fans here who root for the Orioles expected him to be an All-Star at some point in his career. That might still happen, but I don’t see it.

Markakis is a fine player, but no superstar. Perhaps fans should get that into their heads now. He may get marginally better, but not earth shattering.

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