Brian Roberts was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in his Grapefruit League debut against the Twins on Friday night. The 32-year-old second baseman had been slowed since the beginning of camp due to a slight herniated disk in his lower back.
Roberts told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com that his performance at the plate was “obviously, not stellar” but that’s not completely unexpected with a layoff of several months.
“My last at-bat, actually I started to finally feel a lot more
comfortable in the box. My first two, I was pretty clueless,” Roberts
said. “But that’s the way it is every year. It doesn’t take long; it
only takes a couple of at-bats just to kind of get your timing going,
see the velocity. That’s the biggest thing; you just haven’t seen
velocity up until this point.”
Manager Dave Trembley said he could “care less” about the results, as long as Roberts continues to swing the bat without any pain. The O’s skipper stated that “he had every reason to be confident” that Roberts will be ready for Opening Day. Provided Roberts doesn’t feel anything in his back in the coming days, he should only need a few more games to prepare for the new season.
Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:
CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta
Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.
RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole
Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.