I’m expecting to feel a bit nostalgic today when I walk into the clubhouse and glance at the magnetic board across from manager Buck Showalter’s office.
Roberts should be batting leadoff and starting at second base against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It would be quite a shocker if he’s not activated from the 60-day disabled list.
The trickle-down effect on the lineup should be minimal. If Robert Andino is still in it, and he’d probably have to start at third base, he’d settle at the bottom as he’s done for much of the season. Same with outfielder Endy Chavez, who’s also occupied the top spot this season. Otherwise, you’ll probably find J.J. Hardy batting second, Adam Jones third and Matt Wieters fourth. They’re not getting pushed down the order.
Zach Britton, who’s been watching Roberts play in the minors, is confident that the second baseman is ready for a return. He’s paid close attention. I’d say he’s qualified to give a scouting report.
“Everything looks really good,” Britton said. “He played defense behind me again (Sunday) and he made some good plays. He looks really good in the field and was making nice plays, typical Brian Roberts plays that you usually see. And at the plate he also looks good, ripping the ball all over, going away to the opposite field and pulling it. He’s playing the game the way I knew he could play it and it’s nice to see.
“I know he’s really itching to get back to Baltimore. I know he’s ready.”
As the following day’s starter, Britton charted Jamie Moyer’s pitches Saturday from the Norfolk dugout. They don’t have much in common besides being left-handed and dressing in the same clubhouse.
Britton is on Twitter. Moyer hears “140 characters” and starts naming wacky ex-teammates.
“Obviously, we have completely different styles,” Britton said. “I just watched how he went about his business. The funny thing was, this guy’s been in the big leagues for 20-some odd years. We talked about how the last time he was in Buffalo was in 1991. That’s kind of funny.
“I thought it was really impressive how he went about his business, treating Triple-A like he would a big league game. You could tell he was extremely competitive, even down in Triple-A, and I thought that was kind of refreshing to see. The guy’s been around the game for so long and in the big leagues for so long, but he doesn’t take it easy. He treated it like a big league game.”
It’s a common practice for the next day’s starter to chart the pitches, but Moyer provided an unusual challenge for Britton because of his, well, modest velocity.
Yeah, I’m going with “modest velocity.”
Britton couldn’t always identify what Moyer was throwing while the 49-year-old southpaw was holding Buffalo to one hit over five scoreless innings in his Norfolk debut.
“It was nice to see his stuff,” Britton said. “I never saw him pitch in person and everything he does is about changing speeds and keeping hitters off balance.
“I did the chart on him and I was joking with Ron (Johnson) and Brian Roberts at the same time. I put a question mark down for some of the pitches because I didn’t know what they were. I’d ask B-Rob and he’d say, ‘I don’t know,’ so I’d put a question mark down. But he did extremely well.”
I’m sure it’s a story that Roberts will retell today, perhaps while surrounded by reporters in front of his locker at Camden Yards before batting practice. And before he’s introduced to the crowd and walks to home plate for an at-bat that he often doubted would ever come to him again.