SARASOTA, Fla. - Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts seemed cautiously optimistic today about the way he's progressing, but it remains a mystery whether he'll be ready for the April 6 opener against the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards. Roberts can't say for sure when or if he'll play in an exhibition game. He's truly day-to-day as he works toward a return.
Here are some quotes from Roberts.
"I'm feeling pretty good in general. I took part in some beginning baseball activities - hitting off the tee, throwing, trying to get my conditioning up and going through a systematic progression of trying to get where we want to get to."
What does Roberts need to accomplish before playing in an exhibition game?
"I think you have to do everything that you would normally have to do," he said. "I'd have to clear every hurdle that I'd have to clear in February. It isn't really much different this year as it comes to that. I don't really have any real checklist."
Is he more encouraged now than any period over the winter?
"Oh sure, definitely," he replied. "Every day that goes by you're more encouraged. We've certainly had some rough patches for sure, but every day is a new day and every day we're taking a step forward at this point."
What kind of symptoms is he experiencing?
"It's more really about having a systematic approach as I've talked to my doctors, just kind of take those steps forward, but not too quickly, but ... you don't want to hold yourself back," he said. "There's a fine line. That's the biggest thing, listening to the doctors and those who deal with it every day. They kind of lay out what they want us to go through on a daily basis."
How tough is it dealing with an injury without a timeline to return?
"I think that's probably the hardest part," he said. "I didn't think I'd ever go though a harder injury than I did in '05. When I walked off that field in '05, I didn't think I'd ever experience anything worse, but once I had the surgery, I had a timeline. Essentially once I was done with the surgery, I knew within six or eight or 10 months, I'd probably be feeling good. With this, there is no timeline. That's hard mentally, that they can't tell you. It could disappear every day. More likely, it's going to be a progression."
Does he know whether he'll be ready for opening day?
"I can't go that far," he said. "I don't go backward any more and I don't go too far forward. At this point, I wake up and it's Friday morning and that's today, and I say, 'This is going to be a great day.' I'm going to do everything that they allow me to do today and tomorrow I'm going to do the same thing. If that results in me being in Baltimore on April 6, I will be grateful for sure. If that ends up being some other day, then so be it. But at this point, I take it day-by-day, as cliche as that is. That's probably what we all should do in life. But at this point, that's what I do."
Does he talk to his doctor every day?
"Almost every night, we go through what I did that day and what I want to accomplish the next day," he said. "Based on how you're feeling, you kind of move along with that."
If he does too much, what does his body tell him?
"There are signs that you have to listen to, and the doctors with all their knowledge and professional wisdom understand what you need to do, but for the most part, we're trying to slowly take steps forward," he said. "Hopefully, we have a progression and you don't have to be in a place where we have to worry about that, and we keep moving forward."
Is he any more or less susceptible to another concussion?
"Those are medical questions that I'm not qualified to answer for sure," he said. "I've learned a lot, of course, more than I've ever wanted to. I think most doctors would tell you that once you're fully recovered from one that they're separate injuries. I don't know that they would deny if you've had one, you're slightly more susceptible. I don't know if that's one percent or 100 percent. I don't know that anyone can tell you that. You don't live that way. Once they tell you that you're well, hopefully that's what that means."
Has he experienced moments in private when he's doubted that he'd play again?
"I think everyone in life has moments of doubt, things that they're doing," he said. "I've had times when I'm healthy that I said, 'God, I can't do this any more.' I don't mean that negatively. At any point in life, sometimes you don't think you're that good at what you do and through this, I've had my tough days. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have some really, really tough days and some days where you had to think pretty deeply about where your life was going and what you still wanted to accomplish and still could accomplish. But all along I couldn't listen to those thoughts as much as the professionals who deal with it who were telling me, 'We're going to get there. We are going to get there.' Unfortunately, it's always on your own timeframe."
Will Roberts still dive head-first into the bases or change the way he plays?
"I've been asked that question a bunch of times," he said. "I don't know that I can sit here and answer that today. I think you have to play instinctively. If you don't play instinctively, I think you have as much chance of getting hurt as trying to change. However, as you evolve as a player and you evolve over time, you change things in general. I don't work out like I used to work out. I don't do a lot of things like I did when I was 23, and not in a negative way. There are some things I've thought about and I will continue to think about. My main objective is to be on the field every day. I want to play 162 games for the Orioles. My main objective is to try and help the Orioles win games, to help those guys in the locker room be the best they can be, and that's my goal every single day."
What was it like joining his teammates for the workout this morning?
"As we had our first meeting last night and Buck (Showalter) and some of the members of the organization talked about the meaning of a team, there's nothing else like it in the world," he said. "Being a part of a locker room and one of 25 guys, the camaraderie and having each other's backs and supporting each other and caring about each other and enjoying the ups and even the downs, I miss that enormously. There's nothing that can replace that and you only have a short window to do that, and to think you're missing out on any of that in that short window you have to go out there and play major league baseball is very difficult. To go out there and be a part of that atmosphere, there's nothing like that atmosphere. I love being in that atmosphere. I enjoy being a part of it. That's why we're here. That's what we love to do."
Has Roberts learned anything about himself?
"Things I already knew," he replied. "There's more to life for me than baseball. There always has been and there always will be. I love the game to death. I do. It's given me and afforded me a lot of great opportunities in life, a lot of great memories, a lot of great relationships, a lot of great moments. But I live by my faith. I trust that God has a plan for my life. I think it goes a lot farther than baseball for me. It put it in perspective for me that I probably haven't had it put in perspective for a long time, to know that this can be taken away from you every day. Tomorrow isn't promised, to be breathing, much less to be playing baseball. Sure, I've learned some things. If we go through trials and don't learn something, we're not growing. We're not becoming who God has intended us to be, and that's how we become who we are, and that's through trials. If it all went smoothly all the time, none of us would learn anything in life."