SARASOTA, Fla. -- Although he hasn't played a full season since 2009, Brian Roberts said Friday he plans on seeing a lot of Grapefruit League action this spring and is focused on being the club's Opening Day second baseman.
"I still feel like, barring anything else -- I don't mean any disrespect to anyone -- but I still feel like I'm our best option," said Roberts, who had last season cut short after having hip surgery. "I still feel like I can provide a lot to this team. I still feel like the guys in this room want me out there, and know I can provide something. That's the way I approach it. I approach it every day that I'm going to be the second baseman until they tell me something else."
Roberts took batting practice with a group that included Chris Davis, Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold and was in good spirits, laughing and joking around with his teammates as he took the field. There are no restrictions on the 35-year-old this spring, a far cry from recent camps when Roberts, who has dealt with multiple concussions, was unable to play, going through various progressions and rehab work.
"I tried to concentrate as much as I could on baseball and tried to get into as best of form as possible when it comes to that aspect coming in," Roberts, who lives year-round in Sarasota, said of his offseason workouts. "I'm definitely farther along when it comes to that part of it, even though I haven't played a lot. I feel like I'm in a really good spot baseball-wise, especially considering what's transpired the last couple of years.
"I just need to play. That's going to be the biggest thing, to just get out there. I'm excited to have a full spring. I told [manager Buck Showalter], 'I want to play. I want to play a lot.' He said, 'I'm not going to kill you,' but I said, 'I want to play.' I want to get game action. That's the only way to get where you want to be physically and mentally and emotionally -- to get out there and play and have some success and feel confident in your body and everything else that's going on. I think that's the biggest thing I'm going to continue to work on at this point, to just play games."
Roberts joked that he's one of a few players excited for a longer Spring Training with the World Baseball Classic happening this year, and he's had some good conversations with Showalter.
"I don't think he's planning on anything but being healthy and being our second baseman," Showalter said. "I respect that. I know that's how he came in here. He wants to get us a reminder of how good a player he is and what a contributor he is for us.
"There are some really good things that are going on in his life right now that have been a challenge. I never say never about hitting the bottom, but there are just a lot of arrows pointing up for him. There are a lot of arrows pointing up for him ... He's said to me that he hasn't been physically or really mostly mentally where he is right now in a long time."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less