Nick Markakis is cold.
The left-hander with the sweet swing is off to a rough start in 2011, and a number of factors might be to blame.
Markakis is becoming known as a slow starter, and as the Orioles whole offense slumps, his numbers are part of a greater whole.
Because of that group slump, Markakis probably is pressing. In years past, he became the veteran face of the franchise. This year, as the club's No. 2 hitter, he's batting in front of struggling veterans Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero.
Finally, and perhaps the biggest change for Markakis in 2011, the veteran is working with a new hitting instructor. For the first time in his big league career, Markakis is not working with Terry Crowley.
The Orioles shifted Crowley to an advisory role during the offseason and Jim Pressley joined Buck Showalter's staff to work with the hitters.
Markakis has hits in three of his last four games, going 4-for-16 in that stretch. His last extra-base hit was April 14, when he doubled and hit a home run, driving in three runs while going 3-for-5 in a loss to the Yankees. Since then, he's 5-for-36 (.139).
Played out over 162 games, Markakis is on pace to hit 16 doubles and
16 home runs, with 49 RBI.
If nothing else, Orioles fans can look at their steady producer in right field with hope that he will reach his regular season-end numbers, which only means brighter days as 2011 marches along.
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