Brian Roberts returning to Orioles after 13-month absence


Brian Roberts hasn’t played a major-league game in 13 months because of multiple concussions and numerous setbacks in his long road to recovery, but the former All-Star second baseman will be in the Orioles’ lineup tonight for the first time since May 16, 2011.

After such a long layoff at age 34 his ability level is anyone’s guess at this point, but before his career was derailed Roberts was consistently one of the best all-around second basemen in the league and posted an on-base percentage above .340 with at least 25 steals every year from 2004-2010.

Roberts’ absence created an opportunity for Robert Andino to take over as the Orioles’ starting second baseman and despite some brief flashes of improved play last season he’s mostly been the light-hitting, utility man-caliber player his modest track record predicted. Andino has hit .256 with a .656 OPS in 197 games since the beginning of last season, producing an OPS more than 100 points below Roberts’ career mark.

And regardless of how Roberts looks in his first game action in 13 months and no matter if he’s an upgrade over Andino or not, it’ll be great to see him back in the lineup after concussions threatened to ruin his career.

Blue Jays sign Danny Espinosa to minors deal

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Free agent middle infielder Danny Espinosa signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday. The deal includes an invite to spring training, where Espinosa is scheduled for his first split-squad game against the Orioles this afternoon.

Espinosa, 30, was inked to another minor-league deal with the Yankees in January. The veteran infielder was competing for an infield job until the team picked up second baseman Neil Walker on a one-year, $4 million deal last Monday. Prior to his release, he slashed .160/.276/.320 with one home run through his first 12 games with the Yankees this spring. He didn’t fare much better in the majors last year, either, batting a cumulative .173/.245/.278 with six home runs and a .523 OPS in 295 PA for the Mariners and Rays.

Blue Jays starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a bone spur in his heel and has officially been ruled out for Opening Day, which could clear a path for Espinosa to claim a starting role in Toronto. Of course, he won’t be the only candidate under consideration — Yangervis Solarte and Aledmys Diaz are still in the mix as well, though no final decision appears to be made just yet.