Are the two Brians, Matusz and Roberts, close to returning?

August 12, 2011 | Peter Dilutis

BALTIMORE – Prior to Friday’s game against the Chicago White Sox, Buck Showalter gave a brief Brian Roberts update.

Buck said Roberts hasn’t experienced any headaches in recent days, and it seems clear that the next step is Roberts receiving official clearance to start playing in games.

“I’m looking forward to him being cleared by the doctor and start playing in games,” Showalter said.

Personally, I was really starting to wonder what was going on with Roberts. He is due $20 million over the next two seasons, but at this point I find it unlikely the Orioles can rely on him to fill 2B next season without having a potential starter waiting in the wings.

Many fans have wondered about retirement. Would Roberts leave that money on the table if he felt he couldn’t effectively contribute, or if he was worried about health risks?

I’ve even read comments across the Internet landscape from fans wondering if the Orioles could perhaps void Roberts’ contract. That obviously is not going to happen, but this Roberts injury situation has clearly led to much speculation and angst among Orioles fans.

Hearing that the O’s longest tenured player is working towards potentially returning in 2011 is a big positive in my eyes. Seeing him back in the lineup, even if it would only be for a month or three weeks, would go a long way in determining what we could think about expecting from the second baseman in 2012 and 2013.

The Other Brian

Buck Showalter indicated that Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen are the two pitchers in contention to start on Tuesday in place of Chris Tillman. Although Brad Bergesen has pitched well in his last two relief outings, giving up just one earned run in 7.1 innings, it is widely assumed that Matusz will be the one making the start.

Like Roberts, Matusz coming back and pitching effectively down the stretch of the season would be a huge positive heading into 2012.

The Orioles are in wait and see mode with Roberts and Matusz. Six weeks from now, these two players may very well have given O’s fans reason for optimism as the season winds down.

On the flip side, Matusz coming back up and pitching ineffectively would put the organization back at square one with regards to figuring out what to do with the promising left-hander.

In an otherwise putrid season with the vast majority of Baltimore sports fans switching their complete focus to the Ravens, there will at least be a few storylines for the diehard baseball fans to follow here in Charm City.

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