BALTIMORE -- Brian Roberts, who hasn't played in a Major League game in more than a year, will begin a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie on Wednesday. The news, while a huge lift of optimism for an organization that has played the better part of three years without their longest-tenured player, isn't a shock given Roberts' recent comments.
"We wanted to get through one more day," Roberts said of the timing of Tuesday's announcement, which was first made by manager Buck Showalter on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network pregame show.
"We had this kind of tentatively scheduled for a while, but the more people know about it -- obviously -- the more pressure there is. If for some reason we needed an extra day or two, we didn't want to deal with the questions and repercussions as to why."
There have been many questions surrounding Roberts, who has admitted numerous times during his concussion recovery that he thought he had reached the end of the road in terms of his baseball playing days. Asked Tuesday if he felt a return to a dynamic leadoff hitter and All-Star second baseman was even possible at this point, the 31-year-old preached patience.
"Standing here today, I can't say that I'm going to be Brian Roberts tomorrow," he said. "I'm not going to go out there and probably be running into walls tomorrow. But I am going to be out there, and it's going to be a progression. And I hope by the time I rejoin our Major League team I will be the same guy I was five years ago. [It] doesn't mean you don't make some minor adjustments here and there. I want to be on the field and helping this team, whatever that looks like."
The plan is for Roberts to play second base for a few innings and get several at-bats on Wednesday and he will start out playing second base the first few games, although that plan is tentative and could also include some time at designated hitter. Roberts, who hasn't played in the big leagues since May 16, 2011, expressed gratitude for all those who have aided his road to recovery -- including Minnesota's Justin Morneau, who he spoke with Tuesday morning -- and admitted there will be a mixture of joy and apprehension when he takes the field.
"[I'm] excited, scared, a little bit of everything," Roberts said of his return. "It's been a long time coming for sure."
Per Major League Baseball's rules for position players on rehab assignment, Roberts will have 20 days to get himself ready to rejoin the Orioles, a time period he is expected to maximize.
"I'm pretty sure we will use the 20," Roberts said. "It's been over a year and I need to get some at-bats. I stood in on some bullpen sessions and it looks pretty fast. I need to get in there and see some pitches. The first week, it's probably only going to be two or three at-bats a day. So it's going to take a little while to build up. ... We are going to use as much time as we can."