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Orioles looking further into Markakis' stiff neck

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Nick Markakis will undergo an MRI exam on his neck on Monday in what is being termed a precautionary measure for the Orioles right fielder, who has been bothered with neck stiffness since Sunday.

"Just to be on the safe side on Monday," manager Buck Showalter said of Markakis, who last played March 1 and was improving until aggravating the area on Thursday. "Monday or Tuesday. Think it's Monday."

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Markakis was scratched from Sunday's lineup when he reported having a neck spasm that morning. It's the latest in an unfortunate injury bout for Markakis, one of the team's toughest players, who had three surgeries (abdominal, right wrist and left thumb) in 2012.

"I'm not going to downplay it. We'll see," Showalter said of Markakis' injury. "When you get something that has kind of cropped up twice, information is a good thing. ... I haven't been told anything to make me think there's a sense of urgency with that. I asked Nick about it and he goes, 'Whatever.' We'll see. It wasn't much improved today though. About the same as yesterday. It gets better as the day goes on, and when he wakes up it's real stiff."

Slated to be the team's starting right fielder, Markakis has played in at least 160 games in three of the last four years. He's played in four games this spring, going 3-for-12 with an RBI and two strikeouts, and traditionally hasn't needed a lot of Grapefruit League action to get ready for the season.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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