Roberts will have surgery

2006 opener is in question

September 22, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

NEW YORK -- Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts will undergo surgery within the next two weeks to reattach a tendon in his left elbow, and team officials are estimating that it could require six months before he's ready to play again, leaving open the possibility that he won't be ready by Opening Day 2006.

Roberts also tore the ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow after colliding with New York Yankees outfielder Bubba Crosby during Tuesday night's game. The team must determine whether he'll need reconstructive surgery -- a non-crucial procedure that wouldn't delay his return.

"The good news is it's his non-throwing arm, and he should be OK when he recovers," interim manager Sam Perlozzo said. "Knowing Brian and the way he works, the kind of kid he is, if anyone can speed up that process, it'll be him. I'd think he would be able to play in six months."

Roberts stayed at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital last night and will take a train to Baltimore today. The tendon surgery will come once the swelling goes down.

"Without making it sound too grim, until they get in there, they really won't know how severe it is, or maybe it won't be as bad as we think," Perlozzo said. "We'll cross our fingers and hope that's the case."

An elbow specialist examined Roberts after he arrived at the hospital. X-rays came back normal, with no bone damage, but Roberts also had a magnetic resonance imaging test that showed how the pronator flexor tendon became detached.

Head trainer Richie Bancells projected that Roberts eventually would participate in spring training games and be ready for the opener.

"I don't have any reason in the world to not expect a full recovery," he said.

Outfielder Jay Gibbons spoke to Roberts on Tuesday night and said the second baseman's spirits "are pretty good under the circumstances."

"He's obviously a little bit upset," Gibbons said. "He had an unbelievable season. He was really fun to watch this year. He was our MVP.

"We had about six golf vacations planned that we're going to have to put on hold for another year. We were supposed to go to Carolina a week after the season. I think that's what he's bummed out about."

Roberts, an All-Star who batted .314 with 45 doubles, 18 homers and 73 RBIs, was injured in the second inning when Crosby ran into his arm as he covered first base on a bunt. Roberts reached for B.J. Surhoff's throw and spun to the ground, his arm bent at a grotesque angle. He couldn't retrieve the ball as a run scored.

"I was running in to back up the play, and in my head I was like, `Pick up the ball.' Then I thought, `Oh boy, if you're not picking up the ball while it's in play, you've got to be really hurting,' " Gibbons said.

"You're concerned about anybody, but for how hard the guy works and being my best friend ... in my mind I was just hoping it wasn't something serious."

Roberts also dislocated the elbow, causing significant bleeding.

"I couldn't concentrate on the game," shortstop Miguel Tejada said. "The only thing I was thinking about was what happened. He's the last guy you want to see go down like that."

Tejada wasn't the only member of his family affected by the injury. His 5-year-old daughter took the news hard. "I called her and she loves Brian Roberts so much, she started crying," he said.

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