Brian Roberts had bad dreams last night, the kind that shook him out of a sound sleep and made him stare at the ceiling.
In none of them did he collect three hits and drive in a run in his first game back in the majors in more than a year.
“I had to wake up and cross some stuff out of my mind,” he said, smiling. “I have no idea why. But I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t expecting three hits. I was just trying to go out there and, as cliche as it sounds, try to have good at-bats and try to do something that would help us win a game. I really didn’t want to be part of coming in here and losing five or six in a row. That was probably my biggest fear more than anything. I just wanted to try to be productive. It was definitely more than I could ask for.
“I’m just so grateful. I sometimes don’t have words for what I’ve been through and where we are now. I’m humbled and grateful to have the opportunity.”
Roberts received a loud ovation, with many fans standing, as he came to the plate in the bottom of the first inning. He soaked in the moment before digging in against Pirates starter Brad Lincoln.
“I actually got a little more emotional than I thought I was going to,” he said. “It took me a second to gather myself. It was very special and much appreciated. That’s for sure. Everyone has been so good to me here in my career. The fans have been so great and supportive of me the whole time. That was very special.
“It’ll be one of those (memories) that sticks out for sure. There’s not a ton of games that stick out in your mind after a lot, but you have your few. Certain that will be, as much as my brain allows me to remember, it’ll be one that’s good.”
Roberts slid back into first base in the first inning to avoid being doubled off, and dived into the bag to beat pickoff throws. No sense easing back into major league competition. Dive into the deep end of the pool.
“I said after the first, that was probably a little more than I bargained for, the first 15 minutes of the game,” he said, another smile appearing on his face. “That’s what I was hoping for. I was hoping I was going to go through stuff like that and come out of it as good as I did.”
Roberts spent part of his postgame interview on MASN2 wiping shaving cream off his face. Adam Jones delivered the pie, and Roberts never saw it coming.
“I never had one in my career,” Roberts said. “Jonesy said he’s given a lot of eight- to 10-year vets shaving cream pies this year and he wasn’t sure if he’s supposed to do it sometimes. I said I’ll take a hundred of them.
“After I wiped it off, all the fans were cheering around me, I got a little emotional again. Talk about being a part of a team. I hadn’t felt like that in a long time. And that’s something that, there’s not that many people in the world can understand that feeling, what it feels like to be a part of 25 or 30 guys that are all striving for the same thing, working toward that, and all have the same goals and desires. To be a part of that is something really, really special.”
Roberts never really felt like a part of this season’s team until today.
“It was a little bit strange, but I’ve been here with them,” he said. “I had spring training with them. I didn’t get to be on the field with them a lot but it’s a really good group of guys. Everybody’s so on the same page with our goals and our desires. I think this is one of the few times I’ve been in a locker room where it really feels that way. Everybody has each other’s back. Even the new guys. It kind of felt like I’ve known them for a long time. That’s the good part. When we do bring new guys in that they seem to just kind of slide right in and nobody even notices.”
Did Roberts feel a sense of relief or happiness tonight?
“Little bit of both,” he said. “I’ve always tried to live for my faith. If I had a plan for my life, I wouldn’t have scripted this by any means. I don’t think anybody would script hard times in their life. We try to grow from them, learn from them and try to use them for good. As much as I would have liked to have played the last 175 games or 190 games, I’m hoping the next 190 will be better than I ever imagined.”
Roberts provided a lift to the Orioles tonight, whether he noticed it or not.
“It wasn’t my goal,” he said. “Obviously, it’s always my goal to try to set the tempo and let the other guys feed off you a little bit. But geez, a lot of these guys have been playing so well they don’t need me.”