Roberts healthy, ready to go for Opening Day

When he finally walks out of the visitors’ clubhouse at Tropicana Field, down the tunnel steps and onto the turf come April 2, Brian Roberts won’t forget how he got here.

Roberts will try to remember, while standing down the third-base line for his first Opening Day since 2011, more than 700 days that have passed since he last occupied second base for the Baltimore Orioles in a season-opening game. He will recall the sleepless nights, the dark times he thought he had played for the last time and the moments of desperation when even living a normal life seemed out of reach.

And at some point Tuesday night, perhaps during the national anthem or pregame introductions, Roberts will stop reminiscing about the ups and downs of a stellar career marred with concussions and last season’s hip surgery. He will look around at the long line of teammates and coaches standing there with him and feel the emotion of being here — healthy, happy and ready to help the Orioles.

“I’ve always tried to be OK with whatever was going on,” said Roberts, the longest-tenured Oriole who hasn’t played a full season since 2009. “Not that it was fun by any means, but I’ve always believed that what was going on was for a reason and God was doing it through the process. And if I never did make it back, I felt like I needed to get back to a place where I was OK with that mentally. That baseball wasn’t the end-all be-all. At one point, I just wanted some normalcy in my life back, and then when baseball started to come back, yeah it’s been something that has been incredible.

“To feel the way I do, and have it come back as much as it has, it’s been as much as I could ask for.”

Click here to read the rest of the feature on Roberts, which is part of several extra stories I’ll have on in advance of Opening Day.

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