BOWIE, Md. - Even though he batted twice without once swinging at a single pitch, Brian Roberts was pleased with his first game back tonight at Double-A Bowie as he began a 20-day rehab assignment that he hopes leads him back to the major leagues.
“Exciting. Fun,” Roberts said of getting back in the batter’s box for the first time since May 16, 2011. “You realize how much you enjoy playing the game and how fortunate and blessed I have been to play this long to begin with. Hoping to have the opportunity to continue to do it. Getting back in that box, there is nothing that can replace it.”
The game goes on, but Roberts’ night ended after the last of the third and he spoke with reporters a few minutes ago in the Baysox clubhouse.
Roberts drew a five-pitch walk in the bottom of the first, then walked on four pitches to start the bottom of the third for the Baysox. He scored a run but didn’t have to slide. He was in the middle of a 6-4-3 double play in the top of the third but it was pretty routine and there was no takeout slide of the runner coming at him.
“You know what, it really didn’t feel much different,” Roberts said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but it felt a lot more normal than I thought it was going to. I’m definitely excited about that and to share this with my family and my doctor, who I know will be thrilled. This was a very good first step tonight.”
Roberts said Brady Anderson was among those in the crowd tonight.
“He’s been, for 11 years, a great influence for me,” Roberts said. “He took good care of me my rookie year and through this process he’s been somebody who has really encouraged me. We pretty much trained side-by-side since spring training started.
“For him to show up here tonight after spending all day at Camden Yards, he said he wouldn’t miss me running out on the field for the first time for anything. I am very humbled by his friendship and that he would think this was that important.”
Roberts said all along the plan was to leave the game after two at-bats and he didn’t consider changing that plan even though he didn’t get to swing at a pitch.
“Hopefully I’ll get some tomorrow night,” he said.
Roberts scored standing all the way from first base when Buck Britton doubled into the right field corner in the third. Right fielder Wendell Fairly misplayed the ball or Roberts might have been held at third base.
“I probably won’t be able to walk tomorrow,” he said with a laugh. “That’s part of the game. Good to get that out of the way. When I took off I wasn’t anticipating scoring on that ball and then I realized between second and third that something was going on with that ball.”
Roberts had one easy grounder hit right to him in the second and was in the middle of that double play started by shortstop Manny Machado to end the third with no takeout slide from the runner at second on the play.
“Manny made a great play and got that ball to me quick,” Roberts said. “I’ve turned enough double plays to know he wasn’t going to be close enough to get to me. It’s fun to watch these guys play. Manny made two plays tonight that probably 28 out of 30 major league shortstops don’t make. J.J. being one of the ones that would make them, of course.”
Roberts said he expects to get two at-bats in the game here tomorrow and probably come out after that as he did tonight.
As for where he will be playing and with which affiliate, he said that has not all been set just yet.
“We haven’t mapped out beyond the next couple of days and then we’ll go from there,” Roberts said. “I haven’t looked too far ahead at schedules. I know I’ll be here through Monday and then we’ll go from there. I know there is a time when Bowie and Frederick are out of town at the same time, so we’ll have to figure something out, but I’m not sure what it will be yet.”