Roberson tries to rise above crowd

The Baltimore Sun

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Chris Roberson played right field in college, and that's where he made his three starts with the Philadelphia Phillies last season. But his first choice with the Orioles would be center field, where he appeared in 106 games at Triple-A Ottawa.

Not that Roberson is used to getting everything he wants.

Roberson, 28, dresses in the same row of lockers as Nick Markakis and Adam Jones. He knows that if he's going to make the club as a nonroster player, it will likely be as a reserve. And if he's going to crack the starting lineup, he will have to unseat Luke Scott in left.

"I'm just trying to get out there," he said.

At least he has a chance.

The Orioles acquired Roberson from the Phillies on Jan. 2 for cash considerations, but they designated him for assignment this month to create room on the 40-man roster after the Erik Bedard trade. He cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk.

"They told me they had to make space, and they told me to come to camp and be ready for whatever comes about," he said.

Roberson batted .286 in 28 games with the Phillies. He led Triple-A Ottawa with 19 stolen bases and was second in runs scored with 64.

The Orioles' outfield is crowded. Jay Payton also is trying to beat out Scott, and Tike Redman made a strong impression on manager Dave Trembley last season. But Jay Gibbons will serve a 15-day suspension when the season begins, opening a spot.

"I hope they'd bring me over here with a purpose, but if not, I've just got to wait my turn like with anything else. But I have to be ready every time," said Roberson, a career .232 hitter in 85 major league games. "When opportunity's there, I hope I'm there to get it."

Sherrill injured

Reliever George Sherrill, who is expected to begin the season as the team's closer, left yesterday's workout early and received treatment on his right hamstring.

Sherrill appeared to tweak the hamstring on one of the back fields and walked to the clubhouse with assistant athletic trainer Brian Ebel. Trembley said he hadn't received any information on the injury, and it's uncertain whether Sherrill will participate in drills today.

Roberts works out

Second baseman Brian Roberts made more than a brief appearance in camp yesterday. He lifted weights and hit soft tosses early in the morning and took batting practice later in the day.

"He looked real good today," Trembley said. "There were no restrictions on him."

Roberts hadn't worked out for two days after being taken to a local hospital early Wednesday morning with severe stomach pain. Doctors believe Roberts had a kidney stone that broke up before he had to pass it. "But unless they see a stone, they can't really tell you," he said.

A serious change

Though it's still early, Daniel Cabrera is wearing his game face.

Cabrera appears to be much more serious, which Trembley takes as a sign that the pitcher is "more confident, more relaxed."

"We've talked to him about what we want," Trembley said. "I just want him to pitch. I don't want him to do anything more. I just want him to pitch. I think it's been a very good camp for all the pitchers, but especially he's benefited from [pitching coach] Rick Kranitz.

"Kranitz is trying to get him to stand up taller, command his fastball much better. I thought there were times last year that I saw Daniel trying to steer the ball to one side of the plate or the other, and that got him in trouble. I think this is the year he really turns the corner. I know a lot of people won't believe it until they see it, but I believe it's going to happen."

Pitchers set

Garrett Olson, Dennis Sarfate, Craig Anderson, Greg Aquino and Esteban Yan will pitch for Gary Allenson's team in Tuesday's intrasquad game. Matt Albers, Randor Bierd, Jim Johnson, Jim Hoey and Ryan Bukvich will pitch for Brad Komminsk's team.

On Wednesday, Brian Burres, Chris Tillman, Bob McCrory, Radhames Liz and Ryan Keefer are scheduled to pitch for Allenson. Hayden Penn, Roberto Novoa, Kam Mickolio and Fredy Deza will pitch for Komminsk.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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