Brian Roberts

Brian Roberts not close to returning to Orioles three months after concussion

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Brian Roberts hasn’t played since a head-first slide into first base on May 16 left him with a concussion and even after three months on the sidelines his chances of returning this season remain unclear.

Roberts spoke yesterday to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, discussing his frustration with the injury, his desire to return and remain a big part of the Orioles’ plans, and the reaction he’s had to fan backlash regarding his extended absence.

I certainly want people to understand through the whole process that there’s nobody more frustrated than I am, there’s nobody that loves playing the game of baseball still more than I do. I know it’s been disappointing for our fans, for our players, for our organization, not only the season but my circumstance.

Unfortunately you cannot always control the perception that’s out there. All you can do is know that you are doing everything that you can. So for me, in this instance I’m doing everything I can to get back on the baseball field. If the perception out there, if there is one, that I’m not, or for some unknown reason people have feelings that I don’t want to play baseball, I’m sure that’s very hard and hurtful for someone who has as much pride as I feel like I do.

Justin Morneau went through a similar situation in Minnesota last season, as his missing the entire second half of the season led to criticism from a segment of the fan base that refused to understand the delicate and unpredictable nature of concussions. In addition to Roberts and Morneau, other players to miss months following concussions include Jason Bay last season and Morneau’s teammate, Denard Span, this year.

Span returned last week following a two-month absence, played horribly, and then revealed that he’s still dealing with post-concussion symptoms. In other words, the notion that Roberts is somehow extending his absence by not being tough enough or working hard enough to get back in the Orioles’ lineup is absurd.

It has nothing to do with hard work or how much a player wants to return. Brain injuries are a hell of a lot more complicated than any of that. Three months after his concussion Roberts continues to experience headaches, to the point that he had to cancel a recent charity fundraiser, and still hasn’t been cleared for full workouts.

Orioles are eying Welington Castillo as their primary catcher target

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 25: Welington Castillo #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up prior to taking an at bat against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 25, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.

Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.

For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.

Report: Phillies agree to minor league deal with Daniel Nava

KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Daniel Nava #12 of the Kansas City Royals bats during the game against the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium on September 12, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.

Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.