02/24/12 6:11 PM EST
Markakis plans to be ready for Opening Day
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
"Everything feels good, it's just a matter of getting my strength back down there now," said Markakis, who had offseason abdominal surgery and is targeting an Opening Day return. "At times, I'm sore, but I've got to work through that and strengthen where I am weak right now. It's a slow process, but it's coming along."
Markakis reported to Spring Training early to continue his rehab, and there's no pain where the surgery occurred. He took some swings during the club's outdoor batting practice session and fielded with the rest of the outfielders, although the balls he fielded were carefully placed to not overexert him.
"Nothing bothers me swinging, it's just a matter of opening up and changing directions [in the field]," said Markakis, who called himself "iffy" while going side-to-side. "[It's a] little sore around that [area] still. It's just part of the process of having that operation in that area."
Markakis' current progression will have him ready for Opening Day on April 6, and the 28-year-old estimated he probably needs four or five Spring Training games to be ready.
"His February is his January," manager Buck Showalter said of Markakis' schedule. "He's usually a two-week guy, and then he gets bored as far as [spring] games, so we're in good shape there."
Markakis, who prides himself on playing every game during the season, acknowledged the toughest thing is keeping in mind the finish line and not doing trying to come back too quickly.
"He thinks we're way overcautious," Showalter said. "I don't know how happy [Markakis] is with us right now. He's right where he needs to be. Now we just have to keep the reins on him."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.