SARASOTA, Fla. - Brian Roberts said it was by design that he was not trying to steal many bases in the early spring training games. But that changed today in the last of the first inning.
After he singled off Boston's Clayton Mortensen, he stole his first base this spring. Not only did he steal second but he went into the bag sliding head first, just like the Orioles have seen him do many times before, but certainly not very much lately.
"It was good," Roberts said. "It's something that I've been wanting to do. I wasn't going to start running too early in spring. I wanted to get back into the flow of things. But I wanted to start running a little bit more. It's something that I hadn't done in a couple of years, was steal and slide head first. It felt good. It is nice to get some of those things under your belt and move forward."
Did Roberts plan on sliding that way to test himself?
"No, it actually just kind of happened. I didn't really think about it," he said. "When I got up, I said, 'Well, I just did what I wasn't sure I was going to do or not.' That's a good sign, definitely when instincts take over and you just do what you've always done. That's a good thing."
Roberts said it was not too strong to say that he cleared a bit of a mental hurdle today with that head-first slide.
"That is definitely true. I'm over 95 percent of the hurdles and I think that was kind of one of the very few last ones to get over. So that was good to get it behind me and move on," he said.
Later in the game today, Roberts was caught stealing. That was after his RBI single in the last of the fifth. This time he went in feet first and he said that was planned.
"I just wanted to try it. I knew I'd already gone head first. I never used to slide feet first so thought I'd try it and see. I realized I'm not that good at it," he said with a laugh.
With a 2-for-3 day today, Roberts is now batting .370 at 10-for-27.
One thing is for sure. Roberts agreed that if he is going to return to the Orioles as an everyday player that he has to be able to play with some reckless abandon as he once did and he can't play timid, trying to prevent a further injury.
"You need to be able to play instinctually," he said. "You need to be able to play the way you are used to playing. If you are not using your full abilities you are not doing as much as you can. That was important for me to be able to do."