ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Brian Roberts sat at a table in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field after last night's game, a plate of food in front of him and first baseman Chris Davis sitting to his right. Roberts smiled, nodded and dug his fork into a late dinner as Davis engaged him in conversation.
Once again, Roberts was part of the team, even though he wore a sweater and jeans instead of a uniform.
Roberts took a break from his rehab in Sarasota to visit teammates, walk around the field during batting practice and watch the Orioles lose to the Rays 2-1. The drive to St. Petersburg seemed to drop him off in another world.
"An hour feels like I went a long way," Roberts said. "It's just always good to be around the guys and be around the stadium and feel like you're part of it."
Roberts returned to the scene of his latest injury, which he sustained in the third game on April 4 while sliding into second base. He underwent surgery on May 9 to repair his right hamstring.
Roberts has increased his baseball activities, taking batting practice off coaches in the cage, throwing and starting a running progression. He intends to take outdoor BP within the next few days.
"It's going pretty well so far," he said.
Good enough that Roberts hopes to return to the active roster before the All-Star break that begins July 15.
"The doctor told me it would be six to eight weeks," said Roberts, who was 5-for-12 with a double and RBI. "Any time you have surgery, there are no guarantees about any weeks, but we're about four weeks yesterday, so I think we're in a pretty good spot. I can't tell you what two weeks from now holds, but I think we're certainly in a pretty decent place, all things considered.
"I would be highly disappointed if it wasn't by (the break), for sure. We're certainly still shooting for before that. I am, at least. But we're going to try to do it smart, obviously, so we don't have any problems the rest of the way. I think that it's definitely realistic before that."
Roberts attempted to rehab the injury, but surgery turned out to be the right call. It just took a while to accept, and with good reason. He played in 17 games last year, 39 in 2011 and 59 in 2010. The thought of another surgical procedure and lengthy rehab put knots in his stomach.
"I just wish I would have done it earlier, but hindsight's 20-20 and I don't think we really knew a whole lot about it," Roberts said. "I don't think a lot of people know a whole lot about it, so we did what we thought was best at the time to try to rehab it, and we thought that might be the fastest route back at the time. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way."
Roberts may continue his rehab in Baltimore, an idea that he's run past manager Buck Showalter. He hasn't played in two months, so he'll eventually go on an injury-rehab assignment before coming off the disabled list.
How many games will he need?
"Two games," Roberts said, laughing. "That's what I'll push for, at least. I don't know what they'll say.
"I'm not overly concerned about it. Two games, five games, I don't think it makes a whole lot of difference, to tell you the truth. You're jumping into the middle of the season, so it's not going to be perfect, no matter what, but I had a good off-season and had a full spring training, so I don't think it's going to be anything terrible."