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Orioles: Roberts present for first official day of spring training

SARASOTA, Fla. - It was the official first day of spring training, and Brian Roberts was there.

As the Orioles took the field on Friday morning for their first full-squad workout, Roberts was there with him.

He didn't stay for the entire workout. Roberts stretched with the team and then played catch with J.J. Hardy.

It had been a long time since Roberts was on the field with the rest of his team - since May 16. That was when he suffered his second concussion, sliding headfirst into first base in Boston.

After the workout, Roberts talked for the first time since December's Orioles Christmas party. Then, Roberts was nervous and stiff, and it was obvious he didn't want to be answering questions.

On Friday, he was much more relaxed.

"Every day that goes by you're more encouraged. We've certainly had some rough patches for sure, but every day is a new day, and every day we're taking a step forward," Roberts said.

Roberts has had more than his share of injuries - a herniated disk in Apr.il 2010 and a concussion that he caused by hitting himself in the head with a bat in Septermber 2010.

The second concussion was crushing. Never did he or the Orioles think it would end his 2011.

"I've had my tough days. I'd be lying if I said, I didn't have some really, really tough days," Roberts said.

Roberts has those tough days. In the last two years, he's been limited to 98 games and the Orioles are a .500 team with him - 49-49 - and a .381 team without him.

"There are not many free agents you could add to your club like a healthy Brian Roberts," manager Buck Showalter said.

It's six weeks until Apr. 6 - Opening Day - and Roberts isn't sure he'll be there.

"I can't go that far. I don't go backwards any more, and I don't go too far forward," Roberts said.

He'll work hard toward returning.

"If that results in me being in Baltimore on April 6, I will be grateful for sure," Roberts said. "If that ends up being some other day, then so be it."

The Orioles have stockpiled potential second basemen: Robert Andino, who filled in capably when Roberts couldn't play, Ryan Adams, who played some last season, free agents Matt Antonelli, Wilson Betemit and Wayne Tolleson and Rule 5 draftee Ryan Flaherty.

"We can't have our season's success or failure rest on whether he starts the season," Showalter said.

Roberts knows there's a chance he won't play again. He badly wants to.

"There's more to life for me than baseball. There always has been, and there always will be," Roberts said. "I've learned some things. If we go though trails and don't learn something, we're not growing."

MARKAKIS SWINGS: Nick Markakis, who took had surgery on his abdomen on January 5, took restricted batting and fielding practice.

Showalter is trying to limit him in the first weeks of spring training, but Markakis wants to get going.

"I know I'm not there, but on schedule or maybe a little ahead of schedule," Markakis said. "It's just a matter of getting my strength back down there now. At times I'm sore, but I've got to work through that and strengthen where I am weak right now."

LET'S GO TO THE MOVIES: On Thursday, Showalter took the Orioles to a local movie theater for an inspirational video. This year, it featured Ray Lewis exhorting the Orioles.

Showalter said he might change things up in 2013.

'I'm getting too predictable," Showalter said.

ODDS AND ENDS: Jason Berken missed the workout with a left hamstring injury. ... Willie Eyre, who is competing with Berken for a bullpen spot, walked off the field with a groin injury. ... Non-roster pitcher Dennys Reyes and catcher Ronny Paulino still haven't reported due to visa issues.

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