Roberts returns

As you are probably well aware of by now, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is scheduled to be activated from the 60-day disabled list and is penciled in as the team’s leadoff hitter and second baseman. The 34-year-0ld Roberts, who hasn’t played in a Major League game in 13 months, held court with the media this afternoon.

I’ll have a full story up shortly on Orioles.com, but here is some of what Roberts had to say…

[on if he ever felt like its not happening?]
“I’d say there were months at a time where I thought this would never occur, for sure. My doctor, even as recently as probably January when I saw him. He said he never had full doubts, but there were times throughout the process that the future looked so bleak. And so, I think it was a very real possibility for a decent portion of time.”

[on if he had, 'am I gonna feel like this forever ?' thoughts]
“I haven’t started a family yet, I haven’t had kids yet. I have a wife that I want to love and support the rest of my life and all those things take physical abilities to be able to do.  There were many times during that process, there were hours upon hours upon hours where I wasn’t capable of providing some of those sorts of things.
That was a greater concern for a bigger portion of it than baseball was, I’d say that. Because baseball is important and my contract is important, things like that but I would hope people would understand that was number one.”

[feel like more than a year since he's played for the Orioles?]
“Sometimes it feels like yesterday. I can remember taking my lead at first base in Boston like it was yesterday. I can remember the feeling, I can remember the fear, I can remember everything. But there’s times when it feels like five years. I can go back to the dark times in that too and the struggles in my life.”

[on if he feels like his skills have returned]
“At first I was slow, the game was fast. I was so used to taking ground balls with nobody around n runners down the line you get used to doing things a certain way. So the game sped up a little bit. The first week was definitely a progression and something I had to get reacclimated to. After that I felt like it came back pretty well, felt like the defense was good, felt like I swung the bat pretty well. I was actually surprised how fast it did come back.”

[his thoughts on returning]
“Just excited to be here. Did the walk into the locker room, and not just see the guys [but] feel like you’re one of them again. For a long time, I didn’t feel that way and today, I do, finally.”

[on greetings from guys]
“Just ‘glad to see you,’ ‘glad to have you back,’ ‘excited to have you back,’ Those are all things that are good to hear as opposed, to ‘man, I wish you’d go back away.’ They’ve been playing so well that the last thing I want to do is come back here and lose eight in a row, but hopefully I can come back and add something to the team, almost blend back in and nobody notices I’m here except when you do something good maybe. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to run back out there one more time. For a long time, I never thought that that would actually happen. God’s been good through it all, and I’m just grateful for that opportunity.”

[on if he has any apprehensions]
“I don’t have any apprehension about anything I have to do on the field. More than anything, I knew it’s going to be a little differernt out there, in a good way, certainly. I forgot what traveling around the minor leagues was like, I guess. I know there’ll be a little more excitement, a little more energy. All those things are good things. I don’t really have any apprehension about doing anything. I know I can do whatever I need to do on the field now without any ill effects. That doesn’t really faze me too much at this point.”

[on his schedule]
“We haven’t talked about it much. The most I played down there was three days in a row. I didn’t have any problems with that. I had a night and a day and all that sort of stuff. We tried to mix in night games, day games, all that. I’m sure that obviously, I don’t know. I doubt [Showalter’s} going to run me out for 40 straight, even though I’d love to. If I had my choice, I’d say, I’m ready to go, but we haven’t sat downand talked about what the plan will be yet.”

[on the biggest hurdle in his rehab]
“I think getting on the ground is probably the biggest hurdle. Getting in the box, I never really had any apprehensions about. Obviously, one of the hurdles is just getting used to the speed of the game in the batter’s box, velocity and breaking balls, and things like that. I didn’t have apprehension about that. I knew it would come back. I had apprehension about getting on the ground and diving and sliding and doing the things that we have to do instinctively.I think my first couple of dives for balls weren’t all that instinctive, but by the end, the last couple, I really didn’t think about. It’s kind of a microcasm of the rest of my rehab. It’s becoming more and more acclimated to just doing things over and over and over again, and that’s what it took for a year to get to this point, and it wasn’t much different on the rehab assignment, I guess.”

[on his timing after 40 at-bats]
” I feel good. I know it’s going to be a little different up here. I don’t think going back down there you realize that the best of the best are here for a reason. Not to take anything away from anybody in Triple-A. I know there’s going to be some things I have to get used to again. You don’t face guys throwing 98 all the time down there and things like that, but in general, I thought I saw the ball pretty well. I had pretty good at-bats. I squared it up a decent majority of the time.”

[on having no stolen bases in rehab]
“The first week I wasn’t looking to steal bases. That probably left the last 10 days, not even that. Actually, the last week in Triple-A was probably the first time I had the inclination to start to steal bases. It seemed like when I got on, I didn’t have the opportunities, and when I had the  opportunities, I didn’t get on. I’m not overly concerned about it. I think I’ll be able to jump back in and do that. I had some full-speed, first to third slides, first to home, all that sorts of stuff. In general, that’s kind of what I was trying to do was get that stuff in.”

[on sliding head first]
“No I didn’t slide head first into bases. I didn’t have any of those. I had multiple dives for defensive plays. I think the head first dive will come when it’s right–at the right time–on the bases, But, I’m also not going to say, I’m not going to slide feet first more than I used to.”

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