Emotional Roberts meets team in Tampa Bay
Injured second baseman takes 'huge step' in seeing O's mates
ST. PETERSBURG -- Brian Roberts was at Tropicana Field on Friday afternoon prior to the start of the Orioles' series against the Rays, and while there isn't much news on Roberts' injury status, the second baseman got emotional when speaking with the media, admitting he felt he was letting both his teammates and the organization down.
"It was a huge step for me to get in the car," said Roberts, who made the short drive over from Sarasota, Fla., where he has been working out at the team's spring facility.
"And I don't mean that in a negative way. I mean that because I take a lot of pride in wanting to be here doing what I'm supposed to be doing. And [owner] Mr. Angelos has put a lot of investment into me and my family, the Orioles have tried to count on me for a lot, and I haven't been there. And that's hard for me. It's hard for me to walk in there and look guys in the eye, especially knowing what they've been through the last five months. I've been there and I've done it, and it's hard and it's rough.
"Coming to the field [on Friday] is difficult for me, but I felt like it's something I needed to do to kind of break that barrier."
Sidelined with concussion-like symptoms since mid-May, Roberts has played in just 39 games this year and was limited to 59 in 2010 due to a herniated disc in his lower back. Asked if he still had hopes of taking the field before the season is over, Roberts didn't rule it out, although he acknowledged it's becoming a slim possibility.
"It would probably take, at this point, everything to go really, really, really well for the next couple of weeks," Roberts said. "But I think all of our goals are just to get healthy, 100-percent symptom-free for an extended period of time, and be ready to play, whenever that is."
As for whether he still has concerns that his career could be in jeopardy, Roberts -- who met with manager Buck Showalter for about an hour -- said the medical staff has helped quell most of that fear.
"I think anybody who is on the disabled list for an extended period of time has those thoughts, unfortunately," Roberts said. "But I'm no doctor, and the doctors have assured me that's not the case. They are the ones who have been through a lot more training, a lot more schooling and seen these cases over and over and over again. That's very reassuring when you are dealing with people where that's all they do. When they tell me that I'll be ready to play again and I'll be fine, I trust that opinion."
Roberts continues to participate in baseball activities, although not on consecutive days, and said he won't start playing in any form of game until he is completely symptom-free. Having to continually take "baby steps" in his progression has been one of the most difficult parts of the process for Roberts.
"I get the reports, and he's doing things now that at times he wasn't able to do," said Showalter, who made it clear that the first priority is to get Roberts back to living a normal life. "He's able to respond more to [baseball-related] things he wasn't able to do. We are not at the point where he can do them every day and he can proceed to the next point of playing games.
"But it's light years ahead of where it was. I think Brian understands the level he has to be at every day to be able to come back here and make the commitment."
Starter Brian Matusz threw a bullpen session Friday afternoon, but he's not scheduled to pitch in the Orioles' series against the Rays. The struggling lefty had his turn skipped, and manager Buck Showalter didn't rule out him starting in the series that starts Monday against the Yankees.
Right-hander Tommy Hunter, who was hospitalized after his start Thursday due to illness, joined the team in St. Petersburg on Friday afternoon but was told to stay back at the team hotel.
First baseman Chris Davis (right shoulder strain) will be sent out for a rehab assignment Sunday, and he is slated to play at least one rehab game. Davis could possibly join the team at some point in New York.
Reliever Pedro Strop, acquired as the player to be named from the Rangers in the Michael Gonzalez deal, joined the Orioles and was available to pitch Friday.
Lefty starter Jo-Jo Reyes left the team to be with his wife, who went into labor several days before she was scheduled to be induced. Showalter wasn't sure when Reyes would be back.
The Orioles' player-development department has named Class A Frederick infielder Jonathan Schoop as the Player of the Month for August. Schoop hit .336 with eight doubles, a triple, four homers and 21 RBIs in 28 games.
Left-hander Jacob Pettit was named Pitcher of the Month after going 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in five starts for the Keys. He allowed just eight earned runs in 28 innings over that stretch.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.