Roberts slated to see back specialist
Second baseman Baltimore bound; status for opener unclear
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts was scheduled to fly to Baltimore on Sunday night to be evaluated by back specialist Dr. Lee Riley of The John Hopkins Hospital on Monday.
Roberts, who partook in infield practice prior to Sunday afternoon's game, insisted his visit to Riley is not a setback, but a more aggressive approach in treating a slightly herniated disc, an injury suffered during offseason workouts at the Athletes Performance Institute in Arizona.
"I feel fine doing [infield] sort of stuff," Roberts said. "I still have a little bit of discomfort in certain areas and in certain ways, so those are the kinds of things that we're just going to check and make sure that we don't need to try to do anything different treatment-wise."
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has said recently that the situation is a growing concern, and reiterated Sunday afternoon that each day Roberts is sidelined he is "less confident" about his readiness.
"We don't know yet [if this is a setback] until we get more information from the doctor," MacPhail said. "But clearly our preference would be to have him out on the field. But if's it's a setback, we're going to discover over the course of time."
Roberts' progression in treating the injury was slowed last week after medication he was prescribed upset his stomach. Manager Dave Trembley described the megadose pack as similar to a cortisone shot and said it was prescribed to help reduce the inflammation in Roberts' back. While suffering from virus-like symptoms, Roberts did not take any medication the past few days and said his new round of medication is almost over, as well. But he's been limited in baseball-related activities and hasn't hit in five or six days.
"I'm not alarmed, because I know what my body feels like," Roberts said. "I'm ready to go out there and play. But, obviously, we have 162 games in front of us, and you have to start as softly as you can."
While the Orioles have already set their scouts in motion in the event that Roberts isn't ready, MacPhail said it's up to Trembley to find an internal option, such as utility man Ty Wigginton.
"From my standpoint, Wiggy had about as good of a day as you can have over there [Saturday against the Yankees]," MacPhail said. "And he's got some pedigree in terms of his Major League experience. "To me, you know, I would like to see him get [the] lion's share -- at least some innings again -- over at second to just expand on that."
Roberts was scheduled to be examined on Monday and fly back to Sarasota either Monday night or sometime on Tuesday.
That evaluation will be on Trembley's mind.
"I talked to Brian [on Saturday]. He told me he'd be ready to play [Opening Day] April 6," Trembley said. "He's going back to Baltimore to see what we can do to make that possible. You know, we need Brian Roberts on the team."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.