The Orioles' infield could have a different look tonight when Baltimore hosts Pittsburgh in the first of a three-game series.
Second baseman Brian Roberts should be activated from the 60-day disabled list before the Orioles (34-26) take on the Pirates at Camden Yards. Roberts finished his rehabilitation stint Sunday, a stretch that lasted 14 games within the organization's minor leagues. He hasn't appeared in a major-league game in more than a year because of concussion symptoms, but that could change as soon as tonight.
It was a slow process, with Roberts going from one or two at-bats in the beginning to playing complete games last week. But the two-time all-star said recently he felt good and was eager to get back on the playing field for keeps.
"We accomplished a lot of what we were trying to accomplish," Roberts said after leaving a game with Delmarva. "We're pretty close to where we want to be right now."
Roberts hit .238 between Delmarva, Bowie and Norfolk with five doubles, a home run and four RBIs.
"I've felt better than I thought I would feel, believe it or not, which is a good surprise," Roberts said. "I'm grateful for how well it's gone."
Roberts' impending return likely means a different role for Robert Andino, who has been the starter at second since his absence. Even with the notion of again becoming the club's utility man if Roberts regains the starting spot, Andino seemed excited about Roberts' return.
"If he's healthy, man, everyone can see what he brings to the table," Andino told reporters Sunday. "You're talking about one of the best, if not the best leadoff men in baseball.
"I'm anxious to have him back. I can't wait, to be honest with you."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was vague Sunday when asked about what the team might do if Roberts is ready to play today. Baltimore would need to make a change to its 40-man roster if Roberts is activated.
"Obviously, we're hoping that 'Robby' joins us [today] and we'll have a decision to make," Showalter said after the Orioles' 5-4 win Sunday over Philadelphia. "And unlike years past, we'll be sending some people out that we'd like to keep. As far as where he's playing and what position he's hitting, I haven't made that lineup yet."
Orioles fans have been anticipating Roberts' return for some time, and they might get to see him in action tonight against a Pirates team that's 32-27 and tied for first in the NL Central. The Bucs have won seven of nine and are coming off a three-game sweep over Kansas City in their interleague matchup.
The Orioles took two of three from the Phillies over the weekend and have won four of their last six coming into tonight's game and features a pair of surprising teams trying to compete.
Getting Roberts back should be a boost for Baltimore.
"It's been a year so when I get up there, I want to make sure I'm ready to contribute," Roberts said in Delmarva. "At this point, none of us has seen anything glaring that says I won't be."
Correspondent Rich Dubroff contributed to this article.