The second baseman is expected to miss three to four weeks — an encouraging development considering the 35-year-old Roberts had to be carried off the field in the ninth inning Thursday when he grabbed his leg after stealing second base at Tropicana Field.
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An MRI showed a rupture of the seimtendinosus tendon, part of the hamstring. That tendon is often used to replace other torn tendons, such as the ACL, in surgeries and therefore is not considered crucial for an athlete.
“Actually good news. Considering that’s the same, tendon/area they take out of your leg for Tommy John [elbow surgery],” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “Which tells you some doctors think it’s not a part of your body you necessarily have to have in that area. We are hopeful in a 3-4 week period we will get him back.”
This marks the fourth consecutive season Roberts has spent time on the DL. He had played 155 or more games in four of his six previous years as a full-time big leaguer.
“I just never wanted to be that guy that was hurt very often, and unfortunately it hasn’t gone that way lately,” Roberts said. “So we’ll just move forward from here.”
To take his place on the 25-man roster, the club promoted infielder Yamaico Navarro from Triple-A Norfolk. Navarro didn’t play in Friday’s game and is a candidate to be sent down Saturday to make room for starter Chris Tillman.
If he stays, Navarro, Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla all could get time at second base while Roberts is on the shelf. Flaherty started there Friday.
“We hope that Alexi and Ryan can help us hold down the fort until he comes back,” Showalter said. “Obviously, we have had to do it before. It’s just another challenge.”
Roberts will leave Sunday and head to the club’s minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla. He will have the hamstring treated for a few days before beginning pool exercises. After that he’ll progress to testing it by running and then begin baseball activities. He said there is no exact work schedule set, but considering he’s returned from hip surgery and multiple concussions, he thinks he’ll be able to rebound from this setback.
“Based on what it has been the last two years, this is hopefully pretty small on the scale of what’s going on,” said Roberts, who was 5-for-12 in his first three games this season. “So I figure if I can come back from what I came back from in the past, this could be a walk in the park, hopefully.”
Tillman to get his start
Tillman, who hadn’t pitched against major leaguers since a Grapefruit League game March 3 against the Philadelphia Phillies, will finally face big league hitters when he makes his first start Saturday.
“Oh man, I can’t wait,” said Tillman, who was placed on the disabled list with abdomen soreness, retroactive to March 22. “That’s the worst part about it is the waiting part. You just want to get out there, get the first one out of the way and go from there. The waiting is awful.”
Tillman was expected to be the club’s fourth starter, but his abdomen soreness limited his innings in the spring, and also gave the Orioles a temporary solution to their roster logjam. He will be activated from the disabled list Saturday.
Tillman, who was 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts for the Orioles in 2012, last pitched in a game March 29 against the State College of Florida. He has thrown a couple side sessions since then to stay sharp.
“I had two bullpens in three days, kind of treated it like it was in between starts, treating it as normal as possible,” said Tillman, who hasn’t felt abdomen soreness in more than two weeks. “That way I set myself up thinking it was just a normal start.”
Home opener firsts
The first pitch of 2013 at Camden Yards came at 3:11 p.m., a 93-mph fastball and called strike from Jake Arrieta to Minnesota’s Aaron Hicks. The first out and strikeout came two pitches later when Arrieta fanned Hicks. The first hit was a single to right with two outs in the first inning against Liam Hendriks. Minnesota’s Ryan Doumit had the first extra-base hit, a double in the second inning. Nate McLouth had the first stolen base and first run in the third, when he singled, stole second and scored on a single up the middle by Machado, who picked up the first RBI at Camden Yards. Chris Davis had the first homer, a grand slam in the eighth.
Around the horn
Friday’s announced sellout crowd was 46,653. Camden Yards has sold out in all 22 of its openers. ... The temperature at first pitch was 60 degrees. Former Orioles farmhand Mike Flacco, whom the Orioles dealt to the Boston Red Sox in March, has retired from baseball, according to WEEI.com. Flacco, the 26-year-old younger brother of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, was a corner infielder on the High-A Salem Red Sox roster. … The Orioles are now 40-20 in home openers.
Baltimore Sun reporter Matt Vensel contributed to this article.