KANSAS CITY, MO. — Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts knew the significance of Wednesday's date.
It marked the one-year anniversary of Roberts' last game, when his headfirst slide at Fenway Park triggered a second wave of concussion symptoms May 16, 2011.
Roberts said Wednesday that he's thought about the date -- and about being out of the game for a full year -- but that it helps that he feels closer than ever to a return.
"I thought about it a lot today, actually," Roberts said before the Orioles' series opener in Kansas City. "It's one of those things you try to look back on and see what you've learned and what God's tried to teach you through it. I think it happened for a reason. He's in control of it, but at the same time, it doesn't mean it hasn't been extremely hard and very frustrating at times, but at the same time, I'm very grateful for where I am today."
Before Wednesday's game, Roberts was diving for balls from his second base position on the Kauffman Stadium infield. Over the past six days, he's gone from just diving while on his knees to running after balls and lunging to field balls hit to his sides.
He says it's the final "real big hurdle" before he can play in a game.
"It's a pretty big hurdle, getting on my belly and trying to get back to aggressively getting on the ground," Roberts said. "It's a big hurdle physically as well as mentally. I think anybody who goes through an injury, one of the hardest things is repeating the activity that injured you."
Another hurdle has been traveling with the team, and being on this two-day trip to Kansas City -- handling an abrupt schedule of flying in late and being with the team through a quick day-after-night series -- was another test Roberts' doctor wanted him to overcome.
Throughout his recovery, Roberts has repeatedly said he's focused only on the next day, that recovering from a concussion doesn't have much of a timetable. But for the first time since last May, Roberts said, he's actually talking about a potential date to begin a rehab assignment.
"We're finally close enough where at least the doctor and I and the team can talk about days," Roberts said. "For a long time, we didn't even talk about days. We're finally getting to the point where we can at least bring that into the discussion. We haven't narrowed anything down, by any means. It still is, as my doctor says, a fluid situation, but we are at least to the point where we could start to look."