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Roberts: Pre-All-Star break return 'definitely realistic'

ST. PETERSBURG -- Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said prior to Friday's game against the Rays that it's "definitely realistic" to expect him back before the All-Star break.

Roberts, who last played April 5, underwent hamstring surgery last month and made the short drive from the team's spring facility in Sarasota, Fla., to St. Petersburg. The 35-year-old Roberts could stick around with the team after the series, with discussions Friday about the possibility of him continuing his rehab with the team in Baltimore.

"I was joking with Buck [Showalter]. I said, 'Will I get kicked off the plane if I get on it on Sunday?'" Roberts said. "And he said, 'No, come on.' And we talked about it a little bit when I got here. He said we'll discuss it and talk to all the powers that be. It's not the end of the world, but you just get tired of it, you get tired of being away from what you love being around. I've seen enough games on TV the last two years. I'm good on that.

"I watch probably 95 percent of the innings since I've been gone. Usually laying in bed with ice on."

Roberts has been progressing in baseball activities and building up his post-surgery strength. He runs, plays catch and recently went from hitting off a tee to taking batting practice against coaches. Asked to compare how he feels now as opposed to before the surgery, Roberts said it's like night and day.

"I would love to be back before the [All-Star] break," he said of a potential timetable. "I definitely think it's for sure realistic. I don't know if that's July 10, July 1 or June 20. We will push it, but we will be smart. When I do get back, I want to be back for the long haul, not just for a week. So, we got to do it smart and do it right the first time."

Roberts was in good spirits on Friday and was greatly warmly by teammates and coaches, exchanging hugs and spending time chatting behind the batting cage. After working hard this offseason to be a full-go this spring, Roberts injured his leg on a slide in the team's third game of the year and he hasn't played a full season since 2009. In his place, the Orioles have primarily used Ryan Flaherty, although Yamaico Navarro and Alexi Casilla have also seen time at second base.

The longest-tenured Oriole in the organization, Roberts said he didn't foresee any issues in continuing his rehab in Baltimore and that decision will be made in the next day or two.

"I texted [Showalter] and said I was going stir crazy, so I hope so," Roberts said. "I just spend so much time down here. Obviously, it was necessary when I was here for my concussion that one year. But no one likes to be away from the team. Nobody wants to feel like they aren't part of it. I don't know what's going to happen for sure. It's going to be what makes sense for everybody, but obviously I'd love to be around the team and the guys and continue that [rehab] process, if that's possible."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli.
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