Brian Roberts returning to Orioles after 13-month absence

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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.

The Cubs will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday

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The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.

The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.

Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.

The matchups for Tuesday’s action:

Carter Capps to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome

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Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.

Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.

The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.