Roberts, who spent 15 years in an Orioles uniform and was the face of the franchise for several of them, played his first game against his former team as a member of the New York Yankees. The 36-year-old Roberts signed a one-year, $2-million deal with the Yankees in the offseason.
In the Orioles' exhibition game against the Yankees, Roberts started at second base and batting cleanup.
“It’s been 15 years, so of course, it feels weird,” Roberts said. "Anywhere would have felt weird. It wouldn’t have mattered where it was, but its part of the business at some point. I’m just trying to move on. Hopefully, it works out well for everybody.”
Asked if he was angry that the Orioles didn’t pursue him harder – the club never made Roberts an offer to return -- Roberts said there was no point for that.
“Why would I be angry?” he said. “I’m grateful and thankful for every day that I had there. At some point, it was going to come to an end, whether it was you had to retire. Very few guys get to do what Derek [Jeter] does and walk in and say, ‘I’m done on my own terms.’ I think probably one percent of the world gets to do that, so I’m not angry. That organization, and that team and our fans and the city have been great to me and my family and I have nothing but praise for every one of them.”
Roberts said he hasn’t paid too much attention to the Orioles’ offseason makeover. He said the club’s recent signings of free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz were great additions, but he added he’s been too busy getting adjusted to a new clubhouse for the first time since his rookie season, saying he tries to learn a name a day in the Yankees clubhouse.
“They are going to be extremely good,” Roberts said. “I think everybody knows that. You look at their lineup one through nine, there is not going to be anyone better. They have the capability just like several other teams do. I don't think anybody in our locker room or any locker room around baseball takes the Orioles for granted, which is great for baseball and great for the city of Baltimore.”
“There’s no doubt that they’re going to be a very good team,” he added. “I think that does nothing but good things for our division, and obviously, I want nothing but good things for them as long as we can play each other in the American League Championship Series.”
Orioles fans in Baltimore won’t have the opportunity to see Roberts in pinstripes until July 11, the first time the Yankees visit Camden Yards this season. Roberts said he hasn’t thought about the reception.
“I’m not expecting anything and I’m not going to bring myself to have any big buildup over whether they boo me out of the place or they like me,” Roberts said. “All I can say is I gave it all I had every day and if they respect that and they like that, great. And if they didn’t, I feel bad if they think I didn’t do that.”
Showalter said it was a little weird seeing Roberts in pinstripes for the first time.
"But I'm happy for him,” Showalter said. “He's in a good place in his life in a lot of ways. I'm glad it worked out well for everybody. He's in a good place. Wish it had been somewhere else. I wish it was in the National League, but those things happen. He's in a good spot. I'm happy for him - he and his wife and everybody."