PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Second baseman Brian Roberts has been a fixture in the Orioles' clubhouse this spring, laughing and joking around with teammates while avoiding the seemingly endless daily health updates that previously made the veteran a scarce figure and his every batting practice a major media event.
"For the first time in a couple years, I've been able to be a normal guy and go out here and get my work in, just try to prepare like I normally would," said Roberts, who has been full-go since Day 1 and went 3-for-3 on Friday to raise his spring average to .545 in four games.
"A day like yesterday certainly reaffirms what you've done and the work you've put in to try and get back to this. And I think throughout the process, there were probably, I know there were a lot of doubts from the outside, and even on the inside for me. So, I think that [having early success in camp] is always helpful at this stage."
Roberts, 35, hasn't played a full year since 2009, undergoing season-ending hip surgery last year, and has looked more and more comfortable as spring progresses. He hit a leadoff homer in Friday's win and has doubled twice.
Manager Buck Showalter likes to point out Roberts is simply enjoying playing baseball again. Could he have hoped for anything more on March 2?
"No, probably not," Roberts said of his encouraging health and performance. "I didn't know how well it was going to go right from the start. I wasn't overly concerned about having immediate success or anything. But the early success certainly helps. The game was a little bit fast last year and I think it kind of slowed down a little bit, finally."