David Goldman
December 05, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) Nick Markakis walked into the Turner Field home clubhouse on Friday and rattled off the names of Braves players he cheered for as a kid living near Atlanta.

Chipper Jones. Andruw Jones. David Justice. Fred McGriff. Greg Maddux. John Smoltz. Tom Glavine.

Born in New York, Markakis moved to Woodstock, Georgia, north of Atlanta, when he was 10. He said he remembers his parents taking him to games at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

''It was fun to watch those guys do things the right way,'' Markakis said after passing a physical exam that made his four-year, $44 million free-agent deal with Atlanta official.

''That's what they preach over here and it's something you look for in a team,'' he said.

Now Markakis is the Braves' new right fielder.

''It's going to be fun,'' he said. ''It's going to be interesting. What better place to be?''

Markakis, 31, said he has ''mixed emotions'' leaving Baltimore, where he played his first nine seasons.

''They gave me an opportunity early in life,'' he said. ''I can't take that away from them. It's where I started my career, it's where I started my foundation and this occupation. I have great memories there, lots of friends. That's something that can never be taken away from me.

''Everything I did over there is in my past now. I don't hold any grudge, I don't hold anything back. ... In this job, things like that happen. I'm grateful for the opportunity they gave me.''

Added Markakis: ''It's a new chapter in my life. I'm going to turn that page.''

He said signing with Atlanta ''just felt right.''

''The way they handled the whole situation was first class,'' he said. ''They made me and my family feel real comfortable. Those are things you look for when you make a commitment to a team. ... They made me feel comfortable and that was most important to me.''

Markakis, who wore No. 21 with the Orioles, was assigned the No. 22 jersey that had been worn by Jason Heyward, who he'll replace in right field. Hall of Famer Warren Spahn's No. 21 was retired by the Braves.

Heyward was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals last month in a four-player trade that brought pitcher Shelby Miller to the Braves.

The Markakis signing could lead to more moves by the Braves. Left fielder Justin Upton and catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis have been mentioned in trade rumors.

The Heyward deal was seen as a sign the Braves are in a rebuilding stage after finishing 79-83 in 2014. Markakis said he studied the roster and said he has faith in a roster that includes starting pitchers Miller, Julio Teheran, Mike Minor and Alex Wood.

''I saw what they had on paper and I know what guys they have over here and the coaching staff and front office and their fan base,'' he said. ''It's going to be fun. It's going to be interesting and I'm along for the ride and I'm ready to get started.''

Markakis hit .276 with 14 homers and 50 RBIs in 2014 while winning his second Gold Glove. He is a career .290 hitter and usually hit at or near the top of the Orioles' lineup.

He met with Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez but said they didn't discuss where he might hit in Atlanta's lineup.

''They just wanted me,'' he said. ''I said yes. I'll let them figure the rest out.''

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Follow Charles Odum on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CharlesOdum

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