BALTIMORE -- Brian Roberts, the longest-tenured active Orioles player who will be a free agent this winter, said over the weekend that a return to the organization would be "100 percent" his first choice as the 35-year-old reaches the end of a four-year, $40 million deal.
"Not a whole lot of people get the opportunity to play in one uniform their entire career," said Roberts, who was drafted by Baltimore in 1999. "To be somewhere else would definitely be a little bit weird. [I] certainly understand it may be a possibility, but there's a lot of factors that aren't in my hands. But I'll give it every possible chance and we'll see what happens."
Roberts hasn't played a full season since 2009, and if Sunday is the final time he puts on the Orioles uniform, he will be appreciative of the way his 13-year career in Baltimore ended. The infielder has dealt with a litany of injuries the past few years and worked hard to be a full-go in Spring Training, only to suffer a hamstring injury in April that landed him on the 60-day disabled list and -- once again -- put a return to the field in jeopardy.
But Roberts did come back and has played the final three months of the season, manning second base and holding his own offensively, with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette praising the switch-hitter's plate discipline.
"The last thing you want to do is have your career shut down because of injury," Roberts said. "I don't know if I'm proud, but I'm definitely thankful to have the opportunity to come back and play and try to contribute and be a part of what we wanted to do as a team that we didn't obviously fully accomplish. But just to have the opportunity to put some of that stuff behind me and finish 2013 on a fairly good note has definitely been satisfying."
So would the Orioles entertain a return? Duquette and manager Buck Showalter have remained mum, with the plan for the pair to sit down early next week and start to map out plans for this offseason. There is no heir apparent for Roberts at second base, although the club has internal options in Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop, and the free-agent market isn't particularly inspiring.
"It's one of those things that it doesn't even feel like it's really going to come," Roberts said of what could be his final day as an Oriole. "Obviously it's right there. It's kind of crazy. I can't say I've had time to really reflect on everything. But obviously it's been a great time. A lot of great times, a lot of hard times. But I've enjoyed every second of it. And I'm happy to wear this uniform and be a part of this organization, this city, this community.
"Hopefully it's not over, but I'll be certainly grateful for everything I've had."
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