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Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts to hit ninth in batting order

By Eduardo A. Encina

The Baltimore Sun

11:21 AM EDT, March 29, 2013

SARASOTA, Fla.

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Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who, when healthy, has been a staple atop the team’s batting order for more than a decade, will bat in the No. 9 spot on Opening Day and beyond.

Roberts said he wasn’t sure how permanent the move would be, but said he’d be hitting ninth “moving forward.” Orioles manager Buck Showalter met with Roberts before Thursday night’s game -- in which the Orioles were facing their Opening Day opponent, the Tampa Bay Rays, and ace David Price -- to tell him.

“It could be 162 games for all I know,” Roberts said. “That’s how we’re going to begin it and let’s go from there.

“I’m happy to be healthy and playing, and my job for the past 13 years had been to be the best leadoff man in the game I could be, and now I’ll be the best nine-hole hitter I can be.”

Roberts has been limited to 115 games over the past three seasons because of multiple concussions and a hip injury that ended his 2012 season.

Out of Roberts' 1,200 career major league starts, all but 85 have been from the leadoff spot and hasn't hit out of the No. 1 spot since two games in 2009. Roberts hasn't batted ninth since 2004.  

Roberts said his approach won’t change hitting in the bottom of the order.

“I am who I am,” Roberts said. “It really doesn’t matter where I hit. I’m going to do the same things I’ve always done and all that changes is that you don’t hit for an hour.

“I really didn’t think about it, to tell you the truth. It’s kind of the least of my concerns these days. It’s part of the natural progression of the game. You start to get older and your role changes. I’m just glad to know that my role is somewhere on the field."

After three years of battling injuries, Roberts said he’s excited about playing in his first Opening Day since 2011.

“[It’s] exciting for sure,” said Roberts, who is in the final year of a four-year, $40-million contract. “It’s been a long couple of years and I’m just thankful to have the opportunity to go back out there and do it one more time at least. I’ll try to soak it all in and enjoy this process. You never know what the future has in store, so it’s a great opportunity to go into the last year of your contract in what could be the last year in a place you spent so long with the opportunity to do something really cool as a team and be a part of it."

Asked if he would play somewhere other than Baltimore, Roberts said he’s not thinking that far ahead.

“If Baltimore doesn’t want me and somebody else does, I mean, I’m not going to sit at home,” Roberts said. “That’s kind of really the only way you can answer that, but I don’t look that far in advance. I don’t have any idea what the future holds. Right now I’m concentrating on what I have to do today and tomorrow and trying to get us to a World Series and win a World Series and go from there.”