By Mark Bowman, MLB.COM
Nick Markakis has changed his mind. The veteran outfielder has decided to rejoin the Braves for the remainder of the season.
“Sometimes, we all make rash decisions that are not thought out thoroughly,” Markakis said.
Markakis surprised many on July 6, when he announced he had elected not to play this year. But when the 36-year-old veteran revealed his plans to return on Wednesday afternoon, he said he spent the past few weeks feeling like he had made a mistake.
His desire to return grew greater as he watched the entirety of the 2-3 season-opening road trip the Braves completed on Tuesday night.
“Sitting at home, watching these guys compete the last couple days and all the risks they’re taking going out there, in a way, deep down in the pit of my stomach, I felt like I needed to be out there,” Markakis said. “I had the opportunity to be welcomed back and here I am. I’m going to do my best to get back as quick as I can and help these guys out.”
Non-high-risk players who elect not to play this season are placed on the restricted list, but are able to apply for reinstatement. Markakis applied and was granted permission to return, though as the season progresses it could become tougher for players who elected not to play to be granted reinstatement for competitive reasons.
Markakis took these steps after speaking with Braves president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos this past weekend. Along with receiving an invitation to return from Anthopoulos, Markakis said he also felt he needed to show more faith in the health procedures and protocols MLB has in place for this season.
“Everybody in the world is taking risks on a daily basis,” Markakis said. “You can’t hide and run from it every single day. My teammates are out there every single day taking risks. Me sitting there, watching them on TV doesn’t sit well with me.”
Markakis worked out at the team’s alternate training site in Gwinnett County on Wednesday morning. He does not know how much time he will need to prepare before being activated. But he has spent the past few weeks keeping his body conditioned via cardio and weight lifting exercises.
“It sucked watching baseball when you know you can still go out there and compete on a daily basis,” Markakis said. “It eats away at you a little bit.”
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