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Will Roberts be 'an integral part' of the Orioles in '12 and '13?

By Matt Vensel

10:30 AM EDT, August 17, 2011

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Brian Roberts, a crumbling franchise cornerstone, hasn't played for the Orioles since he suffered a concussion sliding headfirst into first base against the Red Sox on May 16. It was his second concussion in less than a year; the second baseman got the first by infamously hitting himself in the head with his bat late last season.

Roberts, 33, has played in just 98 games the past two seasons, and it seems unlikely he will return at any point during the next two months, especially with the Orioles stuck in the cellar. Why risk it? Roberts told The Baltimore Sun and MLB.com on Tuesday that he can’t do strenuous running and that he hasn’t tried to play in a game.

Still, Roberts said he hasn’t given up hope that he will be cleared to return to the Orioles this season.

"That's not my choice," he said. "At this point, I'm at the mercy of the doctors and we're trying to do this as wisely as possible this time around. We are taking every precaution that we can to make sure that this doesn't happen again. That's our first and foremost priority, that when I do step back on the baseball field, whether it's 2011 or 2012, that the chances of this [happening again] are remote."

Roberts is in the second year of a four-year, $40 million extension he signed before the 2009 season. Even if he is sidelined until 2012, he expects to be a productive player until the deal expires.

"There's nobody that loves playing the game of baseball still more than I do," said Roberts, who hit .221 before the injury. "I know it's been disappointing for our fans, for our players, for our organizations -- not only the season, but my circumstances. I still want to be in an Oriole uniform to see this team end up where we desire to go, and I still believe that I'll be an integral part of that in the next two years."

He was a part of the foundation of Andy MacPhail’s rebuilding plan, but even the most optimistic fans probably can’t help but think that the Orioles might not be able to lean on Roberts going forward.

Your turn: Will Brian Roberts be “an integral part” of the Orioles organization in 2012 and 2013, or will he never be the same?