Brian Roberts may be the longest tenured member of the Baltimore Orioles but the status of the oft-injured second baseman is still unclear. Roberts missed the first four months of the 2010 season with a back injury. He returned shortly after Buck Showalter’s hiring. Roberts went on to play in 59 games that season with a .745 OPS and 12 stolen bases.
The start of the 2011 season was greeted with high hopes in Baltimore. Roberts was counted on to have a healthy bounce back year. The former All Star’s season went downhill in a hurry. He hit just .221 in 39 games before missing the rest of the season with post concussion symptoms.
With the start of Spring Training less than two months away Roberts and the Orioles have been vague in their prognosis. At this point Roberts cannot be counted on to begin the 2012 season at second base. In fact, he may not be able to play at all. Dan Duquette’s first move as General Manager was to sign former Padres prospect and Minor League vagabond Matt Antonelli to a Major League contract. Antonelli has limited big league experience but he is being viewed as an option at both second and third base for Baltimore in 2012. Antonelli’s seemingly sudden importance to the Orioles 2012 fortunes may be more troublesome than Roberts’ status. Not only will the Orioles be looking for a second baseman and leadoff hitter should Roberts be unable to play, but the team is on the hook for the two years and $20 million left on his contract.