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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.

Video: Undercover David Ortiz drives a Lyft in Boston

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David Ortiz did one of those “Undercover Lyft” spots for, well, Lyft, in which famous people disguise themselves while driving passengers around. Yes, they’re ads, but they’re still pretty funny. At least this one was.

Best parts: (1) the woman who says she has two David Ortiz shirts to which Undercover Ortiz responds, “actually, all my shirts are his shirts”; and (2) when Ortiz agrees with someone that baseball games are “so loooong.” Oh, and at one point he tells a woman who said she was going to the Red Sox game that night that he was too. After he unmasked himself, she explains his own joke to him. Which, ooohhkay.

In other news, people who take Lyfts in Boston either don’t watch much baseball, because Ortiz’s costume is NOT very concealing, or else they simply don’t look at their Lyft driver while in the car, at all.

Scouting in Venezuela: “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time”

MIAMI - MARCH 14:  Venezuela fans cheer with a country flag while taking on the Netherlands during round 2 of the World Baseball Classic at Dolphin Stadium on March 14, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
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Ben Badler of Baseball America has a story about how major league scouts who cover Venezuela are unhappy with the rules imposed upon them by the league. Rules, they say, which unreasonably prohibit them from scouting Venezuelan players in centralized, team-controlled locations or, alternatively, flying them to team facilities in the Dominican Republic or elsewhere.

The result: international scouts are forced to travel all over Venezuela to evaluate prospect. And, given how destabilized and dangerous Venezuela has become, they believe their safety is at risk:

“MLB’s rules that limit our ability to travel a Venezuelan guy to the Dominican Republic, that limit our ability to get them in a complex at different ages, all these rules are solely contributing to the risks that all of us are taking traveling from complex to complex, facility to facility in the streets,” said one international director. “Someone is going to get killed. It’s just a matter of time, and it’s on MLB when it happens, because they’re the ones who created these rules.”

As Badler notes, Major League Baseball itself has moved its annual national showcase out of the country due to safety concerns. It will not, however, relax scouting rules — which seem arbitrary on their surface in the first place — in order to make the job of international scouts safer.

It seems that Rob Manfred and the league owe their employees better than this. Or at the very least owe them an explanation why they don’t think they do.