Roberts says his back won't affect his offseason workouts

Notebook

Second baseman says regimen won't change much; Hernandez using off-speed pitches more

September 11, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

DETROIT — Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts will not return this winter to the Athletes' Performance facility in Arizona, where he has been doing his offseason workouts since 2002. However, it has nothing to do with the state of the herniated disk in his back.

In fact, Roberts said, since returning to the Orioles' lineup in late July after a 3 1/2-month absence, he has had no problems with his back and doesn't expect the injury to significantly affect his offseason workouts.

"I will make some adjustments, and part of it will be certainly staying away from some things that could cause me problems, but I don't foresee anything," said Roberts, who will be relocating from Arizona to Sarasota, Fla., this offseason, which is the reason he won't be attending Athletes' Performance. "I think I'll be very smart about it. I'll work just as hard, but I'll try to do it as positively as possible."

Roberts, who is known for having a rigorous offseason program, said he will stay in Baltimore until mid-December, which will allow him to work out with Orioles strength and conditioning coach Joe Hogarty or two of the Orioles' former strength and conditioning coaches, Tim Bishop and Jay Shiner, who still live in the area.

He plans to take a lot of the activities he did in past offseason workouts and incorporate them this year, a positive sign that speaks to how well Roberts is feeling at the end of an injury-marred year.

"I will do some things different just because as you get older, you can't do the things that you did when you were 23," said Roberts, who will turn 33 next month. "That's just part of it. But I also have a lot more experience, and I know what's going to work for me. There may be a little feeling-out process this winter doing some stuff, but for the most part, I think it will be fairly similar to what I've always done.

"I probably won't do [quite as intense a] workout in January or February as I have in the past. I was doing two-a-days, and probably at my age and all, I don't need to do that. Now, it's about trying to be as smart as possible and working smart as well as hard. But I'll incorporate probably a lot of different stuff this winter. I haven't had a single problem with my disk since I've been back. That's definitely a positive, and I've played the way I always have played."

Slowing it down

On the disabled list for more than a month with a sprained left ankle, Orioles reliever David Hernandez had plenty of time to think about his approach to pitching, and one of the things he considered was not always relying on his fastball when he gets in trouble.

That approach served him well in Friday's series opener, when he allowed a leadoff triple to Austin Jackson on a fastball in the bottom of the seventh. Trying to keep the score tied, Hernandez turned to his off-speed stuff to get through the heart of the Tigers' order.

He struck out Will Rhymes on four pitches, one of them a slider. He retired Johnny Damon on a pop-up to shortstop, with two of the three pitches to the designated hitter off-speed offerings. After intentionally walking Miguel Cabrera, Hernandez struck out Ryan Raburn on three consecutive sliders.

"In the past, I feel like I would fall in love with my fastball and try to throw it by them rather than going to my off-speed stuff," Hernandez said. "I threw some pretty good sliders."

Matt Wieters has caught the right-hander since the minor leagues and said it had been awhile since he had seen Hernandez's breaking ball that sharp.

"I was impressed," Wieters said. "We were just going to lean on it to get that third out."

Snyder makes debut

It probably wasn't the major league debut prospect Brandon Snyder had in mind, but Showalter was happy he at least got the infielder into a game. Snyder entered Friday's game in the ninth as a defensive replacement at first base after Jake Fox was pinch run for during the top of the inning.

"I told [bench coach Jeff Datz] that, 'OK, we're going to play Brian at first base in the last inning,' and he said, 'OK, I'll go tell him.' I said, 'I want to tell him.' I have to deliver so much bad news. Every once in a while, I want to deliver some of the good stuff," Showalter said. "I kept the lineup card for him. He may play tomorrow. We'll see. There is a process there, give him an inning. I didn't want to wait for him to have too much time to stew over it. But he's fine. He's played in a lot of meaningful games, and it's all relevant."

Around the horn

Fox's two-run homer Friday was just the Orioles' 10th by a first baseman this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Orioles were the last team in the majors to reach double figures in home runs from that position. … Though Michael Gonzalez (back, neck) didn't pitch in a close game on Friday, Showalter said that the reliever is feeling better and was available Saturday. … The Orioles entered Saturday 22-14 under Showalter, tied with the Colorado Rockies for the third-most wins over that time. The Philadelphia Phillies and Minnesota Twins have 25 and 24 wins, respectively, during that span.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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