SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) — After concussions, back problems and right hip surgery limited Brian Roberts to 115 games over the past three seasons, the Baltimore Orioles are hoping he can regain his All-Star form.
Roberts had a leadoff home run and two other hits, Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit connected for consecutive home runs and the Orioles beat a Pittsburgh Pirates’ split squad 6-5 Friday.
In 2012, Roberts made a comeback from his second concussion, but it was truncated after 17 games when his hip flared up.
“I think everything from my standpoint right now is confidence-builders,” Roberts said.
“To know your bat speed is still there, that you can still do things you used to be able to do when you haven’t played in a little while. So, it’s not necessarily all result-driven by any means but certainly, to be able to square balls up consistently and drive balls, I think so far that’s been a positive.”
Manager Buck Showalter has noticed that Roberts is happy with how his spring has gone.
“You can tell that Brian enjoys being back in the flow, but you also know it’s very early,” Showalter said.
“We’re four-plus weeks away from starting the season. It’s a long way, but he’s moving very well,” he said.
Roberts was an All-Star second baseman in 2005 and 2007. He is 6 for 11 this spring.
Roberts homered in the first inning against James McDonald. He hasn’t hit a regular season home run since 2011.
“It’s good to see him back. It’s very frustrating for a guy who wants to be out there and can’t be out there,” Orioles starter Jason Hammel said.
Reimold, who missed most of last year after neck surgery, hit a two-run homer in the second ahead of Betemit’s homer. He left the game after the homer with a sore right shoulder.
McDonald allowed four runs and six hits in three innings. He said that the Orioles, who have won six of seven, were swinging especially aggressively.
“That was a little unusual for spring training,” McDonald said.
“They did hit some pitches that were good. They had some good swings, I can’t take that away from them.”
Gaby Sanchez homered twice for the Pirates.
“That’s a byproduct of a healthier guy, a guy that was able to get in a full offseason of work in. He played from behind last year,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s come in a good place.”
Making his spring training debut, Hammel, who missed much of the second half of 2012 with right knee surgery, allowed one hit in two scoreless innings.
“Nice to be out there with two good knees. Very, very happy with the results were good, there’s still stuff to work on but it was a good start. Good first one,” Hammel said.
Adam Jones was 0 for 3 in his last game before leaving the Orioles this weekend to play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
The game ended when Pittsburgh’s Jordy Mercer tried to score from second on an infield hit by Alex Presley. Mercer was tagged out by catcher Luis Exposito
NOTES: Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen had his first hit of the exhibition season, a single off Mike Wright. … Baltimore C Taylor Teagarden is out for a few days with back spasms. … Orioles OF Henry Urrutia, a Cuban defector, met briefly with Showalter today while taking his physical. Urrutia signed with Baltimore last July, but was stuck in Haiti until his work visa was granted this week.
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