Weather-permitting, Brian Roberts will get the loudest standing ovation 10,000 people ever gave anybody, when he leads off the bottom of the first inning at Camden Yards tonight, stepping into his first major league batter’s box since May 16 of last year.
If they play, what an occasion this is. All that doubt as to whether he’d ever play again will be washed away. Roberts expressed some of his feelings on the long comeback to media members, including Steve Melewski of MASNSports, while everyone waited for the rain to go away.
It is anticipated, with some blips along the way, that his presence will alter, if not transform, the dynamic of the lineup. The anemic on-base percentage the Orioles are getting from their leadoff position will change, along with base-stealing capacity, and defense.
A lot of people were in love with Robert Andino’s glovework, but it often seemed to me he was being overpraised. Oh, those throwing errors. Third base will be a good spot for him to land, since he showed sound defense when he played there at times last year. But Buck Showalter will probably do expected and return him to his super-utility role.
The question of what roster move to make involved people like Steve Tolleson, Ryan Flaherty, Nick Johnson and perhaps others as well, but the decision may have been made a little easier when Brian Matusz, Wednesday’s starter against the Pirates, fouled a ball off his base while practicing his bunting this afternoon. His next turn in the rotation comes up when the team is at Atlanta this weekend, and of course in the National League park, the pitcher has to bat.
In his defense, there is an argument that your face is a practical place to bunt the ball, since there are no infielders in the vicinity. Well, okay, except the catcher. But we wish Matusz a speedy recovery, depending on his diagnosis.
If it’s determined that he doesn’t even have to miss Wednesday’s start, we promise to give him credit for having guts. Available people to take the hill in his place are Jake Arrieta, who is out of excuses, and Miguel Gonzalez, who is slated to start for Norfolk that night and would be going on normal rest.