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.