Roberts returns to action in Minor League game

Roberts returns to action in Minor League game

BOWIE, Md. -- Brian Roberts returned to the field on Wednesday night, playing three uneventful innings of a Minor League game on a quiet late-spring evening.

And he couldn't have been happier.

"[I'm] just excited to play the game and just feel blessed to even have the opportunity to get back there," Roberts said. "I just didn't know for a long time if I was ever going [to have] the opportunity. I'm grateful to be able to get back out there."

Roberts hasn't played since May 16, 2011, due to the effects of a concussion he suffered that day, his second in several months. He joined the Double-A Bowie Baysox, who play in Prince George's Stadium, about 30-40 minutes from Oriole Park in Baltimore, and he will compete with them through Monday in Eastern League action as part of a rehab assignment. The rest of the rehab plan, which can last up to 20 days, hasn't been mapped out.

Roberts batted first and played second base for the first three innings of Bowie's 6-2 loss to Richmond. He walked twice -- never needing to take the bat off his shoulder -- and scored from first on a double that was mishandled in deep right field. Roberts turned a double play in the field.

But there weren't any real physical moments. He was able to score standing up, and the runner didn't get close to him on the double play.

Roberts was clearly happy after leaving the game. Because he hasn't played in just over a year, he wants to settle back into playing baseball once more, to prepare for life in the Major Leagues.

"The plan is just to get in there and get used to playing again, see some pitches and certainly get your body used to being in a game situation again," Roberts said. "It's a little different situation than Camden Yards."

Roberts said he wasn't really nervous playing again, calling it more excitement than jitters. But the best thing was finally getting back on to the field.

The second baseman admitted in a Tuesday night news conference and again Wednesday that there were times when he wasn't sure it would happen. That's what made walking back into the batter's box so special on this night.

"You realize how much you enjoy playing," Roberts said. "It really is something that I love to do. Getting in that box, there's nothing that can replace it, unfortunately. I missed that aspect."

Roberts had a number of family and friends on hand, plus members of the Orioles family, wanting to take a look.

Former Oriole Brady Anderson, who now works in the team's front office, was one of the people who showed up, something that touched Roberts. He said that Anderson has been a great influence on him for 11 years.

The next step will be a repeat on Thursday. Roberts said he'll probably get two more at-bats to ease back into things. But now that he's taken the first step, Roberts is hoping he's on the right path.

"It really didn't feel much different," Roberts said. "I didn't know what to expect. It felt a lot more normal than I thought it was going to. I'm definitely excited about that. It was a very good first step."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.