Roberts making significant progress

Injured second baseman Brian Roberts is scheduled to play in his first extended spring training game on Friday at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota.

Roberts will take infield and batting practice tomorrow and Thursday - a normal workout day - before playing five innings at second base on Friday.

The plan is for Roberts to get four at-bats, so he could lead off each inning. The rules are a lot more relaxed down there.

Assuming there are no setbacks, Roberts will get five at-bats as the designated hitter on Saturday, work out on Sunday and return to second base on Monday. By June 10, he could be ready to play a full nine-inning game and perhaps report to one of the Orioles' affiliates on a minor league injury assignment.

"That's all subject to how he feels, of course," said Aberdeen manager Gary Kendall, who serves as the extended spring training coordinator. "Nobody is going to push him if he's not feeling up to it."

Roberts has been working out on a separate field, but he'll join the A group tomorrow for infield drills and also take batting practice. He took about 80 swings today, hitting from both sides of the plate while Kendall and Scott McGregor threw BP.

"He's hitting line drives. The ball's really coming off his bat nicely," Kendall said.

Roberts also has been running the bases and bunting as part of his daily routine. He's taking more ground balls each day, with his range expanding - especially to his backhand side - and he'll be the lead infielder for cutoff and relay drills tomorrow, which will require him to make longer throws.

"It's been real encouraging, and he's been great to have around," Kendall said. "Brian is a quiet guy, but guys look at him when he says things to our young hitters to lift their spirits. It's been a long stretch for them down here. Some have been here since March 1 and some will stay here for GCL (Gulf Coast League). He's full of encouragement and says the right things to these guys. He's a true professional.

"What I like is when he got here, I said, 'Hey, whatever you want to do,' and he goes, 'I'd really like to get this thing going so I can get back up to Baltimore.' He's given us a lot down here. I can see where he wants to get back out on the field."

Roberts should be in top condition from working out in that Sarasota heat.

"The last few days have been a boiler," Kendall said.

For the Orioles:
Corey Patterson LF
Miguel Tejada 3B
Nick Markakis RF
Ty Wigginton 1B
Luke Scott DH
Matt Wieters C
Adam Jones CF
Julio Lugo 2B
Cesar Izturis SS

Brian Matusz LHP

For the Yankees:
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Marcus Thames DH
Francisco Cervelli C
Curtis Granderson CF
Kevin Russo LF

Javier Vazquez RHP

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