FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Feb. 28 -- Baltimore Orioles Manager Sam Perlozzo said Wednesday that Jay Gibbons will start the first game of the exhibition season on Thursday against the Florida Marlins at first base. Perlozzo is trying to determine whether Gibbons is an option at first base during the regular season.

"I want to play as much as I can," Gibbons said. "I'd like to play there everyday. Hopefully, I'll get some more time in there and I'll feel more comfortable. I feel good taking ground balls, so the next step is getting into games."

Two seasons ago, then-manager Lee Mazzilli said he wanted to play Gibbons at first base but then rarely used him during the exhibition season. It appears Perlozzo will take a closer look.

"If you're going to play first base and win that spot, then you have to do everything a first baseman is supposed to do," Perlozzo said. "He'll get used to it. It's not like he hasn't played there before. We're not going to make a decision on one ballgame."

Liz Handles PressureRookie Radhames Liz impressed with his two scoreless innings in Wednesday's scrimmage. "I was able to control my fastball pretty well in the first inning," Liz said. "In the second inning I had a bit of trouble with the slider. But I felt well."

Liz, 23, said he was perhaps a bit nervous.

"Whenever you pitch for the first time, whether it was in Bowie, or in the majors, there is always a bit of pressure," he said. "But then you get used to it."

Liz is one of the team's top pitching prospects. Many baseball experts believe that Liz is more suited for a relief role.

"Really, I'm prepared for anything," he said. "I'm a starter, but if they want me as a reliever then I'm ready mentally and physically to whatever they choose."

Markakis's Special FanCount Cal Ripken Jr. as a fan of Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis, who is already being mentioned as the next great home-grown Oriole. Ripken and Markakis spoke recently at an autograph signing.

"Nick's career is off to a great start," Ripken said. "It seems as though he is just starting to come into his own and is a player who Orioles fans can really get excited about. I had the chance to spend a little time with him this winter and I really enjoyed talking baseball with him. As a fan I am excited to watch as he continues to develop this season."

Injury Report

Right-hander Hayden Penn (sprained ankle), who was scratched from his scheduled outing tomorrow, will throw a side session on Saturday. Outfielder Adam Stern (strained side) did not take batting practice yesterday and is day-to-day.

Up Today

at Florida in Jupiter, 1:05 p.m.