(Updated: 7:30 p.m.)
BALTIMORE — A day after second baseman Brian Roberts expressed optimism that he was closer than ever to a return, the Orioles announced he will begin a long-awaited rehab assignment on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old Roberts will report to Double-A Bowie to begin a minor league rehab assignment, which the club hopes will lead to his return after a year-plus layoff. Roberts last played in a game on May 16, 2011 at Fenway Park.
“[I’m] excited, scared, a little bit of everything,” Roberts said. “It’s been a long time coming for sure. Sometimes it feels like two days and sometimes it feels like 10 years, but I’m extremely excited.”
Under major league baseball rules, Roberts has a maximum of 20 days for a rehab assignment as a position player. Manager Buck Showalter and Roberts said he will likely take the full amount of time before being activated.
Roberts will play second base and receive two or three at-bats in his first couple games. He also expects to serve as the designated hitter on occasion and will have some days off mixed in as well. Roberts said he’s viewing the 20-day period as his version of spring training.
He’s embracing the reality of once again playing baseball — even in the minor leagues — after simply struggling with his overall quality of life at different points over his recovery time.
“When there’s days where you’re laying on the couch and you really can’t even function, you’re not necessarily even thinking about baseball,” Roberts said. “There were days that [playing again] never even crossed my mind. I was just trying to get back to a normal life. As we continued to progress, I still had doubts about playing baseball, but I had more confidence in being able to live a productive and enjoyable life. Now, I’m beginning to think that playing baseball at a high level is a reality as well.”
The 20-day period would end on June 11, meaning Roberts could be in the lineup when the Orioles welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates to town for an interleague series on June 12.
Listen to Roberts’ entire interview with the media prior to Tuesday’s game right here.