Thursday December 18th, 2014

Atlanta Braves outfielder Nick Markakis underwent successful neck surgery Wednesday to repair a herniated disk, the team announced.

It was reported earlier this month that Markakis was "leaning toward" having the surgery, which reportedly carried a recovery time of up to 12 weeks. That timeline would have cast doubt on his returning in time for the opening of spring training in late February, but the Braves said Wednesday Markakis is expected to resume baseball activities before spring training begins.

Markakis was first diagnosed with the herniated disk before the 2013 season.

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Markakis, who had spent his entire career with the Baltimore Orioles, signed a four-year, $44 million deal with the Braves earlier this month. The Orioles were reportedly hesitant to offer a guaranteed fourth year to Markakis in their negotiations due to his neck issue.

The outfielder is coming off a six-year, $66.1 million extension that he signed in 2009, a deal that paid him $15 million in 2014. In 155 games in 2014, Markakis hit .276 with 14 home runs, 50 RBI and a .342 on-base percentage, and won the second Gold Glove of his career.

In nine seasons, Markakis has combined to hit .290 with a .358 on-base percentage, 141 home runs and 658 RBI.

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Markakis is expected to replace Jason Heyward in right field for the Braves. Atlanta sent the 25-year-old Heyward to the St. Louis Cardinals last month in a deal that netted the team starting pitcher Shelby Miller.

The Braves, who fired general manager Frank Wren at the end of the regular season and replaced him with John Hart, went 79-83 in 2014, finishing with a losing record for the first time since 2008.

- Ben Estes 


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