Brian Roberts of the Baltimore Orioles looks on from the dugout during the eighth inning of the Orioles 4-1 win over the Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Brian Roberts hasn't played for the Baltimore Orioles in more than a year, due to concussion-related issues. But he's slated to return to the lineup Tuesday night against the Pirates.
In 2005, Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts became a star. Entering that season with 12 career home runs, Roberts hit 18 homers, started for the American League in the All-Star Game, and showed up on some MVP ballots. Roberts remained a star through 2009; that season he led the majors with 56 doubles.
But Roberts entered 2010 with a back injury. He did manage to play the first four games of the season, but strained an abdominal muscle and didn't play again until late July. He didn't play like an All-Star, or an MVP. On the 26th of September, with a week left in the season, Roberts struck out three times. On the 27th, he struck out twice. After one of those strikeouts, Roberts bonked himself on the head with his bat. He was wearing his helmet and he'd probably done that hundreds of times in his career. This time, he gave himself a concussion.
That was Roberts' theory, anyway. He missed the last six games of that season.
Roberts did open the 2011 season in the lineup, but suffered another concussion while sliding head-first on the 16th of May. He hasn't played in the majors since. That was nearly 13 months ago. Finally, though, some good news:
#Orioles 2B Brian Roberts returns tonight after missing 13 mos recovering from a concussion. His Dr., Micky Collins, will be in attendance.— Brittany Ghiroli (@Britt_Ghiroli) June 12, 2012
Roberts is coming off a 14-game rehab stint in the minors, during which he performed reasonably well. His replacement this season, Robert Andino, can't hit.
So even though Brian Roberts is now 35 years old, if he's even close to himself the Orioles will enjoy having his bat in the lineup again. One might guess they'll simply enjoy having him around again -- he's got the reputation as a fantastic guy in the clubhouse -- but Roberts has actually been with the team through almost all of the time he's been on the Disabled List, even during road trips.
With the Orioles just one game out of first place and looking for their first winning season since 1997, what the Orioles really need isn't inspiration; what they really need is a second baseman who can win some ballgames with his bat and his glove and his legs.