Roberts to head north with Orioles
Second baseman will start season on 15-day DL
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Optimism for Brian Roberts' return to the Orioles' lineup got a lift on Monday. The second baseman -- who will be placed on the disabled list to begin the regular season as he continues to recover from a concussion -- will head north to Baltimore with the team next week.
Roberts, who last appeared in a game on May 16, said he was told he would be placed on the 15-day DL, not the 60-day, which is another encouraging sign for the longest-tenured Oriole.
"I really didn't want to be separated again, be down here away from my teammates and kind of not feel a part of things," said Roberts. "Medically, even more so, it was important. My doctor felt it was really very important to be in that environment as much as possible -- around the crowded stadiums, and start to readjust to the travel schedule and those things all over again. Those are all things that he's had guys have difficulty with in the past.
"When you are in a rehab assignment down here, you are in a very controlled environment. Same time, same place, not a lot of people around and you can get acclimated to that. But when you go up into that atmosphere, it's a whole different ballgame."
Roberts said his daily schedule will tentatively be the same it has been in the final weeks of camp, which includes taking infield work and pregame batting practice. He has not gotten into a spring game but has started watching the team's games from the dugout as he tries to reacclimate to that environment. Roberts has said several times this spring that being around his teammates has been a welcome reprieve in his recovery, and he reiterated that sentiment Monday.
"I told [Orioles manager Buck Showalter] the other day, I said, 'You don't know how excited you made me,'" Roberts said. "Now I know I don't have to stay down here and be isolated from everybody. That was part of the miserable aspect of it last year. Last year, I knew it was important for me to be down here and get away from the craziness, now it's important for me to get back into the craziness.
"So I guess the good part is the difference of where I am in the recovery process."
While Roberts said every step in his progression has been important, he acknowledged that Monday's news is one of the most important so far.
"It's a good step for him to be there with his teammates, with the club," Showalter said. "He's been away from the environment for a long time. We will see if he, I feel pretty confident we won't take him to Anaheim that first [road] trip, but we may take him to Toronto and Chicago. We'll see."
Roberts will likely work out with the team's Minor League affiliate in Bowie if he's not on a certain leg of a road trip. He said Monday that the plan has been very well thought out, resulting in a relatively setback-free spring that allows for the cautious optimism that he will take the field for Baltimore this season.
When that will be is anyone's guess, although the decision to keep Roberts on the 40-man roster by not putting him on the 60-day DL is a sign of good faith that the second baseman could return sooner, rather than later.
"I have hope that I'm coming back," said Roberts, who keeps in frequent contact with Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, who also dealt with a concussion. "Obviously if they didn't think I was going to come back they probably would 60-day DL me. But, I think we are all hopeful that's not the case at this point.
"We are going on the 15-day DL, so we are conceding that I won't be ready in 15 days. But other than that, we aren't conceding anything at this point."
Added Showalter: "We don't need him on the 60. So, you always make sure you cover yourself with that. And you don't know what's going to happen, that potential. It's just not at the point yet. We don't need that spot [on the 40-man] either."
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.