Timetable for Brian Roberts’ return from concussion unclear


Brian Roberts hasn’t played since May 16 of last season, but there’s still no timetable for his return from multiple concussions.

Roberts has progressed to taking batting practice and fielding ground balls, and Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the second baseman now has more good days than bad days, but that means he’s still experiencing symptoms at least occasionally.

“I don’t know what the next step is,” Roberts admitted to Encina. “When we get to point where I guess I feel like I’m to the point where the next step is we’ll figure out what the next step is.”

Robert Andino is expected to serve as the Orioles’ starting second baseman if Roberts isn’t ready for Opening Day, but that’s a huge dropoff even if Andino is able to duplicate what was for him a career-year in 2011.

Roberts played just 59 and 39 games during the past two seasons, but prior to that averaged 152 games per season from 2004-2009 while hitting .290 with a .365 on-base percentage and .803 OPS. During that six-year span he ranked seventh among all second basemen in OPS and also stole 212 bases.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.