Roberts takes first swings of spring

Brian Roberts took swings during the Orioles live batting practice on Sunday for the first time since being diagnosed with a small herniated disc in his lower back.The Orioles leadoff hitter, Roberts progressively swung with more authority as he rotated through the team’s five stations, taking some good hacks in particular off infield coach Juan Samuel.

“I always do BP fairly easy, I’ve tried to increase the intensity a little bit as I went, kind of every round,” Roberts said. “But most importantly [you] just try to get your body moving in that direction at a little higher rate than off the tee or flips or whatever.”

Roberts took cuts from both sides of the plate, and was encouraged with the results from Sunday’s workout.

“Anytime you are coming off of any type of injury that psychological part is as much as the
physical part,” he said.

“It got better. The physical confidence as well as the psychological part…the more you [take swings], the more confidence you get and the more effort you are able to put in.”

The 32-year-old Roberts began experiencing nagging back spasms during his offseason workouts at the Athletes’ Performance Institute in Arizona, and was originally misdiagnosed with kidney stones before doctors found the herniated disc a week later.

Roberts said on Tuesday that he had hoped to be able to swing a bat against live pitching within the next week.  Prior to Sunday’s workout, the Orioles second baseman had been a
regular fixture at fielding practice and in the cages, and was only limited in swinging the bat during BP.

“That’s the last phase, start hitting live,” manager Dave Trembley said of Roberts’ program. “So, it was good to get that started [on Sunday].”

With the Orioles set to play an intrasquad game on Monday and open Grapefruit League play against the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, the timetable for Roberts’ return is still undecided.

 “I don’t know [when Roberts will get in games],” Trembley said “I will wait until I see what [head athletic trainer Richard Bancells] tells me, what [Roberts] tells me. I can’t put a time frame on it.”

For now Roberts said the plan is to slowly increase his work load and intensity, and try to
limit the stopping and starting action that often results from waiting around in between turns at the plate.

“I don’t think I’m going to start hacking off pitchers throwing 95 [miles per hour] yet ,” Roberts said. “But we will increase with the batting practice and the intensity and maybe a few more swings as well.”

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