Orioles' Roberts to miss at least next three weeks

Concussion to keep second baseman from performing baseball activities for two weeks

May 24, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

Second baseman Brian Roberts will not participate in baseball activities for the next two weeks and will be sidelined for a total of at least three weeks after seeing a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

"They recommend he not do any physical activity for two weeks and then get re-evaluated," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "He could come quickly after that or not, they don't know. But right now, the prescription is two weeks of inactivity and then re-evaluate."

Roberts suffered concussion symptoms in the first inning May 16 at Boston, when he slid headfirst into first base. He missed the end of last season after hitting himself on the helmet with a bat, causing a concussion.

He hasn't played since May 16 because of headaches, prompting a trip to sports-related concussion specialist Michael Collins in Pittsburgh. MacPhail said it's difficult to know how serious Roberts' condition is this time around but it's fair to say he'll be out at least an additional week once he gets back to physical activity.

"When you are dealing with these things, you don't know," MacPhail said. "Really, it's a science we're just starting to understand. We are just probably scratching the surface with that stuff. So you don't know."

Roberts, 33, is on the newly created seven-day disabled list for concussions. MacPhail said he likely will be moved to the 15-day DL for procedural purposes, but it doesn't alter his return, which all depends on how Roberts responds to rest.

"He is definitely improving, definitely better," MacPhail said. "You just have to let these things play out. There are, I think, different indications, different players, that historically went much further, much longer than people expected, and others came back relatively quickly. You have to take it individually."

Roberts was hitting .221 with three homers and 19 RBIs in 39 games. He has been replaced by Robert Andino and Ryan Adams at second base. MacPhail said he is open to other alternatives to fill in for Roberts.

"There are a variety of ways we can go," he said. "Particularly now, it is complicated because you have guys coming on the DL, off the DL, you don't know when they are coming off. There are some moving pieces, and I would suspect the roster is going to be in flux here for the next week or two as we make whatever adjustments we think we have to make to deal with it."

Matusz goes Friday at Norfolk

Left-hander Brian Matusz will make one more minor league start Friday, with the hope that he'll pitch in his Orioles season debut June 1 at Seattle.

"If he pitches well and the people that are evaluating like what they are seeing … then he can come back and pitch for us [next Wednesday]," manager Buck Showalter said. "If not, he'd take another start [next Wednesday] somewhere else."

Matusz has been on the DL with an intercostal muscle strain since the season began. He has pitched in two extended spring games and once each at Single-A Frederick (one run in four innings) and Double-A Bowie (six scoreless innings). On Friday, he'll pitch at Triple-A Norfolk against Columbus. He is expected to throw about 90 pitches and go between six and seven innings.

"I think it is the right move. I went out today and threw a side [session], and I felt really good," Matusz said. "This is the best play. Go to Norfolk, be able to get out there and get myself as high as I can [in pitches], so I'm ready to go for the big league level. I think it will be good for me."

Berken doesn't allow a run

Right-hander Jason Berken, in his first start for Norfolk, pitched three scoreless innings in the Tides' loss to Louisville on Tuesday.

Berken allowed five hits and struck out three while throwing 28 of his 43 pitches for strikes. He loaded the bases in the second inning but pitched out of the jam.

Berken was demoted after allowing six earned runs on five hits, two homers and a walk in one inning Friday in the Orioles' 17-5 loss to the Washington Nationals. That raised his ERA to 7.94 over 15 relief appearances.

Showalter said the organization wants Berken to go to the minors to start, giving him an opportunity to get stretched out and work through the command problems he has been experiencing.

That doesn't mean the club looks at Berken exclusively as a starter going forward. Berken came up as a starter and went 6-12 with a 6.54 ERA in 24 starts in 2009.

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