SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles' Brian Roberts is on his own program, taking his own time. There is no other way when you have had multiple concussions and aren't yet ready to play a Major League game. He seemed as upbeat as could possibly be imagined, but he's given up guessing when he may be back playing.
Roberts said, "I've looked down the road too long.''
Doctors have told him it just isn't wise to play the guessing game, to worry about the return. By not thinking about when he may be back, Roberts said, it "takes the stress away ... stress doesn't help.'' All that matters is health now. Pondering whether he has a baseball future at age 34 isn't going to help him. So he takes it day to day, he said. "You want to put yourself into an environment to get well.''
The Orioles can't do anything but wait along with him. Robert Andino will take Roberts' spot at second base for now. Nolan Reimold is expected to be the leadoff hitter. Roberts is a big loss for the team.
Once one of the game's better leadoff hitters, Roberts was limited to 39 games and a .221 batting average last year. He has had multiple concussions, one coming when he struck himself in the head after a bad at-bat. If that was a frustrating plate appearance, this has to be infinitely more frustrating. He says he's "progressing'' and "has more good days than bad days'' but doctors can't tell him when he'll be ready for the rigors of the majors. It could be weeks, or months, if ever.
"Your brain has to be ready to heal,'' he said. 'It's different than a shoulder.''
Even more frustrating, there isn't much to do, except wait and heal. He says there's some physical therapy with the eyes he's tried. He's able to run with the team and play long toss, and he occasionally gets into the batting cage. But that's about it. In the meantime, he's taken some encouragement from the improvement in his health. He said he's doing a lot better than he was four months ago.
"I wake up every day with a positive attitude, go back to work and try to get back to doing what I love to do.''