ABERDEEN, Md. - After taking his cuts during batting practice in front of short-season Single-A Aberdeen manager Gary Allenson, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts is going to bat leadoff and play second tonight for the IronBirds.
His goal is to play nine innings the next two days here with the IronBirds and come through the games healthy enough to rejoin the Orioles for a road trip that begins Monday in New York.
Roberts has been on the disabled list since July 3 with a labral tear in his right hip. He got a cortisone shot and has been increasing his activity in recent days in Sarasota, Fla., leading to this point where he needs to now test the injury in a game situation.
"In non-game situations, I would say (I've tested this) fairly intensely," Roberts said this afternoon outside the IronBirds clubhouse. "We did a lot of running the bases, a lot of hitting and took a lot of ground balls. Plus some physical therapy stuff with it. I felt like we did a pretty good job of knowing reasonably where we were at without being able to simulate, actually really not even that close, to a game situation. That is the hard part in these rehabs, there is only so much you can know in a non-game situation.
"The doctors, we kind of got them together and we said, 'Let's give it one shot before we have to have surgery on it.' You always want to avoid it if possible. So we started getting active over the last ten days or so, and it just got to the point where I'd done about everything I could in that situation and it was time to sink or swim I guess. So we're here to try it."
Has he experienced any discomfort or setbacks during his workouts up to this point?
"Everything has been pretty good. I don't think you're ever going to be symptom or pain-free with something like this. I think you try to manage it as best you can. If you think you can play at a level that is high enough, you keep going. If not, you have to get it taken care of.
"I think we are going to find out (if I can play with this). I hope so. There is nothing more I want to do than to get back out there and help our team, help our organization, get back to the playoffs for the first time in a long time. It's exciting to have the opportunity to try and we'll adjust from here," Roberts said.
He did say not every doctor he saw thought returning to play was the best course of action to take.
"The first doctor I saw, his recommendation was surgery," Roberts said. The second one recommended let's give it a shot first. Literally and figuratively. I got a cortisone shot, and then we tried to get active.
"I just didn't think that waiting six weeks or eight weeks was going to do a whole lot of good. The rehab from the surgery is four to six months. I wanted to either give myself a chance to play this season or give myself time to be healthy for the beginning of next year. I think that was the best overall decision for everybody."
Is surgery later or during the offseason still possible?
"We'll have to see at the end of that depending on what I'm dealing with through the process, I guess," he said.
This could be a quick injury-rehab assignment as Roberts hopes to play today and tomorrow here and then, if he comes through that fine, join the Orioles Monday against the Yankees in New York.
"I don't think it is going to take a whole lot of time to figure out one way or the other," he said. "I haven't been out that long, so the at-bats are not an enormous deal. It's just more of how are my symptoms from this and I don't think it's going to take too long to figure it out one way or the other.
"That would be ideal, yeah (to return for Monday's game). If we wake up Monday morning, and I'm on a train then we're in a good place," Roberts said.