Roberts on his return, retirement & his charity
Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts acknowledged the last three months have been the toughest stint of his career as the veteran infielder –who has been sidelined since May 16 with a concussion –said in a revealing interview Tuesday that while his return this season is in jeopardy his career in Baltimore is far from done.
“I certainly want people to understand through the whole process that there’s nobody more frustrated than I am, there’s nobody that loves playing the game of baseball still more than I do,” Roberts said in a phone interview with MLB.com and the Baltimore Sun. “I know it’s been disappointing for our fans, for our players, for our organization, not only the season but my circumstance.
I still want to be in an Orioles uniform to see this team end up where we desire to go. And I still believe I’ll be an integral part of that in the next two years.”
Roberts ,who suffered the injury on a head head-first slide into first base in a game against the Boston Red Sox, is well aware of the backlash stemming from his prolonged absence and said that he is working closely with specialist Dr. Michael Collins to make sure they “wisely” handle his progression. Roberts is still experiencing headaches although they are less frequent and severe than earlier in his rehab and he said Tuesday that he is still not participating in physical activity that requires him a lot of exertion although that could change following Wednesday’s appointment in Pittsburgh with Collins.
“Unfortunately you cannot always control the perception that’s out there,” said Roberts, who has received some backlash from a restless Orioles fan base and was forced to cancel his annual charity event because it was deemed a risk to cause a symptom relapse.
“All you can do is know that you are doing everything that you can. So for me, in this instance I’m doing everything I can to get back on the baseball field. If the perception out there, if there is one, that I’m not, or for some unknown reason people have feelings that I don’t want to play baseball, I’m sure that’s very hard and hurtful for someone who has as much pride as I feel like I do.
“I’ve been in this org for12 years now,” added Roberts, who is the longest-tenured player in the Orioles organization. “As unfortunate as the situation was that I got injured, it was an injury of passion, because I care about the game, I care about the Orioles, and I care about the team.”
Roberts –who has dealt with concussions in the past and missed three-fourth of last season with a back injury — declined to offer any timetable on his return, saying that emphasis this time around is on eliminating this problem from the future.
“I certainly haven’t given up hope that I’ll be able to play at some point this season, but that’s not my choice,” said Roberts, who has been rehabbing at the team’s spring facility in Sarasota, Fla. and speaks with Collins on a near-daily basis. “We are taking every precaution to do what we can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. I think that’s our first and foremost [goal].
Our priority is when I do step back on the baseball field in 2011 or 2012 that the chances of this happening again are remote.”
Roberts has talked to other Major League players who have suffered concussions, including Minnesota’s Justin Morneau and Toronto’s Aaron Hill and said that the more research and information he got on his condition the more convinced he was that it wasn’t a career-ending situation.
“I think anyone who has had an injury where they’ve been out for two or three months would be lying if they didn’t have those [retirement] thoughts at some point in the process,” said Roberts, who has played in just 39 games this season. “I can probably say that that had crossed my mind at some point, but I’ve done a lot of research and talked to a lot of guys who have been through it so I’m not going through anything abnormal.
I think once I gained more information and understood more of what was going on, the better I felt about the long term prognosis.”
As for the cancellation of Brian’s Baseball Bash, an annual charity event benefiting the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, Roberts said he plans on making a substantial donation to help keep the hospital’s cause funded and the expectation is the event will continue again in 2012.
“We tried to push it back, but it got to the point where it wasn’t going to make sense for me unfortunately with the state of my concussion,” Roberts said of the event which has been an annual fundraiser for the past five seasons.
“What people I think have to realize is that in a recovery of a concussion, your day to day routine and what u go through on a daily basis affects your recovery. And everything you do outside of that routine presents an opportunity to take a step backward in that recovery. So, as important as the hospital is to us, my priority is the Orioles, playing baseball and getting back on the field as quick as we could.”
When that will be next remains up in the air. Roberts’ appointment on Wednesday –which will involve a workout and more testing with Collins – could clear him to progress more extensively in activities. Right now, he is hitting, taking ground balls and has gone back and added some light running in hopes of creating some momentum.
“I’m not at the point where I can do everything we need to do unfortunately yet,” said Roberts. “But we’re a lot further along than we were a month ago.”