Anthony Amobi: Roberts off to good start, but can it continue?

It has been quite a journey for Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts for the past several seasons.

Roberts is the longest-tenured member of the Orioles, having played his entire 12-year career with the team. However, he has spent more time as a bystander than on the field in recent years.

Now the question for Orioles fans is this: Can Roberts still be a productive player, or is he no longer viable for the organization?

So far, in a two-game sample, it looks like he can still play in the major leagues.

As of today, he is 4-for-8 in the first two games of the 2013 season and has scored a run. He hit very well during spring training and isn't batting in the leadoff spot, but as the ninth-place hitter in the lineup.

The Orioles are trying to his work his way back into things after missing roughly almost two seasons' worth of games.

In the end, the remainder of what happens in his professional career may hinge if he can stay healthy. He also needs to show of some of the form that made him one of faces of the franchise over the past decade.

Over the past three seasons, Roberts only appeared in 115 games as he suffered through debilitating concussions and back problems. He also had surgery for a torn labrum in his hip that led him to be sidelined for the remainder of the 2012 season and this winter for a sports hernia.

He has been a fan favorite and one of the most recognizable faces of the franchise since he debuted with the Orioles in 2001. He has played in two all All-Star games (2005 and 2007) and for a time was considered of the best all-around second baseman in the game.

That success earned Roberts a four-year, $40 million contract extension in 2010. He is currently in the final year of the deal.

At the time, Roberts was a durable player, appearing in at least 138 games in a season since 2003 and fans had applauded the contract extension. In 2009, he had appeared in 159 games and batted .283 with 56 doubles, 30 stolen bases, 16 home runs, 79 RBIs and a 3.5 WAR according to Baseball Reference.

Roberts was in his age-31 season, and most assumed that he would maintain his same level of performance for a couple seasons before his decline phase began.

Sadly, after he signed the extension, Roberts had an extremely hard time staying healthy and on the field.

When healthy, Roberts - perhaps even at his advanced age - is potentially one of the better and more patient hitters on the team, a stolen base threat and gets on base at a decent clip.

I cannot think of anyone on the roster who has his tools or that could fill his shoes.

Despite Roberts' injury-marred history over the past several seasons, he could still be a productive part of the Orioles in 2013.

At this point, he can only help and not hurt Baltimore's chance for another successful season.

Anthony Amobi blogs about the Orioles at Oriole Post. His observations about the O's appear as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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