Brian Roberts optimistic about return to diamond
BALTIMORE – Brian Roberts looked right at home in the Orioles clubhouse on Monday. Roberts flew with the team from St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday after he convinced the Orioles that he had rehabbed his surgically repaired right hamstring sufficiently in Sarasota.
“We’re just going to finish off the final pieces of the progression. It’s great to be back. You feel kind of isolated on an island down there,” Roberts said. “It’s always good to be around the guys. It’s always good to feel like you’re a part of the team.”
Roberts convinced manager Buck Showalter that it would be better for him to be with the team just as he was at the beginning of last season when he was returning from his second concussion.
“We talked about the pros and the cons of both places,” Roberts said. “We all just decided and realized this was a good place for me to be. It was good for me to get back in the environment and good for me to be around the team around. Not that you’re not motivated down there, but it gives you more motivation. I think it keeps you so much more involved.”
After Roberts underwent surgery last month, it was forecast he’d be ready to play in six weeks. It’s been almost five, but being here won’t accelerate the timetable.
“It doesn’t make it any faster, necessarily, but they see a little bit more of what’s going on. They know where we are in the progression. I don’t think we have a timeframe at this point,” Roberts said.
“We’re certainly in the homestretch.”
Showalter didn’t want to set a date, either.
“We’ll see how he progresses in the next week,” Showalter said.
Showalter said that he liked having Roberts around the club during the early weeks of 2012, and liked having him in the dugout over the weekend at Tampa Bay. Last year, Roberts traveled with the team until late May when he started a 20-day rehab assignment.
“This one is going to be a lot shorter than last time,” Roberts said. “That’s part of the emphasis to stay connected and feel like you’re part of the team still. We’re not looking to get any miracle solution out of this. It just happened to be one of those things that I brought up and they kind of agreed it was a good idea.”
On Friday, Roberts said he hoped the rehab assignment would be a short one, between two and five games.
“I’m not planning on spending a lot of time down there,” he said.
Showalter and Roberts will decide on the duration of any minor league assignment.
“He knows the level of what has to be done here. He knows when it’s right and he knows when it’s not. He’s not going to put himself in a position not to contribute,” Showalter said.
“I’m going to lean towards what Brian’s telling me. He deserves that, and he’s earned that. I trust him and that he’s going to say, ‘I’m ready’ unless he is.”
Roberts says that he still needs to work on his running.
“Just continuing to build up to where, obviously you can be explosive again. You can run, you can cut. You can stop. You can backpedal, The running has taken some good steps forward in the past couple of days,” Roberts said.
“I’m hoping that’s a really good sign that we’ve kind of reached a point where things are starting to move a little quicker.”
Over the weekend, he watched three games from the bench, and it reminded him, in the last year of his contract, what he was missing.
“There’s nothing that compares to being in this atmosphere. You don’t get to do it for a real long time, all things considered, in your career and in your lifespan. Every chance I get to be in this atmosphere, I want to be in it. I don’t know how much longer I have to be in it, and I want to be around it as much as possible.”