Brian Roberts putting together impressive showing in camp


Essentially a non-factor the last 2 1/2 years, Brian Roberts is giving hope that he could reemerge as the Orioles’ starting second baseman this season.

Roberts went 3-for-3 with a homer against the Pirates on Friday. He’s 6-for-11 with two doubles in the early going this spring.

While the Orioles did little to upgrade their lineup over the winter, they’d get a big boost if Roberts returns as anything like his old self. Baltimore got nothing from its second basemen on its way to winning the wild card last year; only the Tigers (.577) had a worse OPS from the position in the American League. Orioles second basemen hit .213/.273/.323 and were successful on just five of 11 steal attempts.

The Orioles also struggled to get production from the top of the order both before they moved Nick Markakis into the leadoff spot and after he got hurt. Their .293 OBP from the first and second spots combined was better than only Seattle’s (.283) in the AL.

At 35, Roberts would be past his prime even if not for the concussion and hip problems that have taken a heavy toll. The guy who used hit .290 with 40-50 doubles, 10 homers and 70-80 walks is probably gone for good. Still, Roberts doesn’t need to return to All-Star form to provide the Orioles with a lift. A .260-.270 average with doubles power and steady defense would do the trick.

Reds claim Kennys Vargas off waivers from Twins

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The Twins’ Dustin Morse announced on Thursday that the Reds claimed first baseman Kennys Vargas off waivers. The Twins had designated him for assignment last Friday.

Vargas was a man without a spot on the Twins’ roster as he has only played first base and DH, but the club has Joe Mauer and Logan Morrison for those spots. The Reds aren’t much better as Joey Votto lays claim to first base and there is no DH in the National League. Vargas switch-hits and has some power, so he will presumably provide that off the bench for the Reds.

Across parts of four seasons in the majors, Vargas has hit .252/.311/.437 with 35 home runs and 116 RBI in 859 plate appearances.