Brian Roberts kept telling everyone that he’d be ready for the opener, that he could get his body ready while dealing with a herniated disk in his back.
Rather than experiencing a feeling of satisfaction today, Roberts described it more as “relief.”
This is one time when he really wanted to be right.
“I’m very thankful that I am here,” he said while standing at his locker before batting practice. “The training staff has been great, the doctors have been great. Everybody’s gone above and beyond to try and make this happen. And Dave (Trembley) was awesome during spring training, kind of letting me do what I needed to do so I could be here today. I thank those guys.
“I feel blessed just to have the opportunity to be here because I had no idea a couple weeks ago, a month ago, where I’d be.”
Roberts has pretty much tested the back in every way possible. In the first inning of one of the last exhibition games, Roberts ranged far to his left to field a ball, dived for another one and made the throw, slid hard into second on a double and dived back into the bag on a liner to short.
“I think the only thing I haven’t done is steal a base, but I dove into second base, so I’m not too worried about it,” he said.
“I try not to live in worry. It doesn’t do any good. I just really try to live by my faith. I’m here today. If I’m not here tomorrow, it’s for a reason. I’m not going to worry about every single pitch and every single play. I’m just going to go out there and play like I normally do, and if something happens, you can’t really do much about it.”
Asked if today is the best he’s felt, Roberts replied, “Opening Day is always the best you feel. Doesn’t matter if you’re healthy or unhealthy. The adrenaline starts kicking, the lights come on and nothing hurts for one day.”
Roberts is more excited than nervous.
“If you don’t have an excited feeling, you should probably retire,” he said. “You get that childlike excitement.”
That includes Roberts’ feelings toward the team this season.
“I think this is probably as excited as most of us have been in a long time,” he said. “When you look around this room and see what the talent level is and what the capabilities are, I think we all have high expectations. I’m not saying like 105 wins, but high expectations for where we want to go in the future. Whether that means .500 or the playoffs or 92 wins, I have no idea, but I think we’re going to be better, and that’s a positive thing.”
Trembley never doubted that Roberts would be included in tonight’s lineup.
“He told me he was going to be ready and he got ready. Glad to have him. Makes our lineup better, makes our team better. Valuable guy,” Trembley said.
“I was confident he was going to be ready. He told me that he would and we didn’t really get too excited when he wasn’t playing at the begining,” Trembley said.
“He’s played for an awful long time. He knows what he needs to do in order to get ready, and he did so. Tough guy. Works real hard in the off-season. And when he got healthy, you saw how he played toward the end of camp. He gives you what he’s got. We need that.”