Here is more from today’s lengthy pre-game interview with Brian Roberts and reporters here in Bowie at Prince George’s Stadium.
Roberts continues his injury-rehab assignment tonight here playing for the Double-A Bowie Baysox.
Is there something that will serve as the final test to show you are ready to return to the O’s?
“I haven’t slid yet. Well, I’ve slid feet first. I haven’t tried to steal a base. I haven’t had to make a diving play in the field or anything. I’m looking forward to maybe being able to do that at some point, whether it be tonight, and start to play more the way I like to play in a game situation. Down there, it’s kind of cautious and you just get your at-bats and get the feel of the game. I think once I get here and get in a real atmosphere of a game situation, that will be a good test.”
Is sliding the biggest hurdle?
“The way my body feels at this point, I don’t feel like it’s going to be an issue. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t feel like anything like I do now. I think it was probably more of a concern to me then than it is now. I just haven’t had a chance to do it. When you haven’t done it, it is something that is in the back of your mind. I think I just need to get out there and do it once and move on.”
You’ve had so many setbacks, was there a time you didn’t think you’d get this far?
“Yeah, there were definitely times where I didn’t think I’d be here right now, certainly. It did get to the point a couple of times where I didn’t know if it was better off just not even pushing it anymore. But, you know, you just go through the process and you see where it takes you.
“I was going to continue to go through that until it got to the point where there was no hope at the end. I’m thankful that I got here at this point and we’re just going to continue to hope that things progress as they have been.”
Was it frustrating?
“Beyond, yeah. It’s just hard sitting on the sidelines, you don’t like to watch. Every athlete has that competitive bone in his body and I feel like I have that one to the tenth degree for the most part.
“It was very frustrating, especially being secluded from your team, from your teammates, from the city of Baltimore, from the stands, from everything. It was one of the toughest periods of my career, for sure.”
Since the team has struggled, some have wondered why come back and play now?
“I mean a lot of reasons. One, you just want to play. That’s what I get paid to do and what Mr. Angelos has signed me to do. That’s what this organization is expecting of me.
“I think, on the other hand, for me to able to come out next year and if they think that next year is important, I need to get this under my belt and play some games and get back to myself going into next year. I don’t like the thought process of not playing at all, taking the winter off and then going in with the unknown next year.
“I feel like if I can go out there and get two and half, two months under my belt and be ready to roll going into winter and do my off season program and have no second thoughts with what is going on with my body, I think that’s important.
“I was on a radio show earlier this year and Scott Garceau mentioned that there were some fans that were wondering if I was still trying to play. If I wanted to play.
“I want people to know, that is not the case. I will be out there until I can’t go. There are a lot of reasons that drive you. There is not really one sole reason, but there are several of them.”
How many at bats do you think you need?
“It’s hard to say just because you can get 50 at-bats in the minor leagues and go up there and go 0-for-20. You never know. Or you can get 10 or go 10-for-20. The way I feel just physically, yeah, I think I’ll be fine. I think it’s just a matter of getting in the box a little more. I don’t think I need a lot. Even in spring training, I think I got somewhere around 50-ish. So if I got 30 or 35, to me, that’s plenty to go out and play. But it’s up to the powers higher than me to make the final decision.
“I’m going to play nine innings today, DH tomorrow and then I’m supposed to play nine again on Wednesday, I think. I’m going to play the field two of the next three days and hopefully that will continue to get my legs in baseball shape and be ready to go.”
Is this an injury that you could be dealing with your whole career?
“No. They said really the most important thing is once you get calmed down, you do what you are supposed to you shouldn’t have any problems. Obviously you are playing a professional sport and you are doing things that take a toll on your body, it doesn’t matter if its me or Nick or somebody else, tomorrow you could come up with an injury, but when it comes to just specific issues that I had, I don’t think it will be a problem.”
Will you be here all week?
“I don’t know 100 percent. We have laid out a little bit of a schedule but I think its all going to depend on how these next few days go and how quickly we want to push things.”
Did you ever think this could be career-ending?
“No. I talked to enough people and did enough research, talked to some doctors as well as some players who have had back problems to know that, sure there is an issue and can be issues in your back that can be career-ending. But this wasn’t one of them. It’s just something that it did set me back a couple months but going forward hopefully there won’t be those problems.”
Has it been hard to sit out while the team has struggled?
“Sure anytime your team is struggling and you think you can make a difference. But how big a difference? I don’t think we’d be 10 games over .500 if I was playing, but I feel like I could have made a difference in some areas, sure. But I’ve also been through plenty of hard times here and it know what it’s like so it’s not like I don’t understand what they are going through. I know exactly what they are going through. I’ve been through a lot of losses here unfortunately.
“So, yeah it’s difficult to sit back and watch, I look at a guy like Kevin Millwood who’s never been here before and you want to get him a good taste of this city and Baltimore baseball and the Orioles. And I feel like, not that I would have changed that whole thing, but you feel like when you are out there playing you might have an opportunity to do something like that. There’s a lot of different things that have been hard the last couple of months sure.”
You said you didn’t try to steal a base in the Gulf Coast games. Was that by design?
“I wasn’t going to get a base hit my first time and try to steal second and third. There is a progression of baseball related activities, even in spring training. I don’t get a hit and go out and steal second base.
This is one of those things where even the minor rehab is a progression as well as the baseball part. Just like you don’t go out and play nine innings the first day.”
Have you talked to any players dealing with a similar injury?
“I talked to Mike Sweeney when he was in town. Obviously he’s had a lot of issues, obviously mine wasn’t anywhere near his but I talked to him about what he’s done to get over that hump. I talked to the doctor who deals with tons of baseball guys. Just about obviously the percentages and the odds about not having any problem moving forward. And he seemed to feel like my issue was very, very small in the grand scheme of things.”