BALTIMORE (AP) — In his first year with the Baltimore Orioles, Brian Roberts played shortstop alongside third baseman Cal Ripken, Jr., who was in the final year of what turned out to be a Hall of Fame career.
Now in his first season with the New York Yankees, Roberts is lining up next to shortstop Derek Jeter — who’s putting the finishing touches on what appears to be a Hall of Fame career.
“I’ve definitely been extremely blessed to take part in both of their last years,” Roberts said. “They have so many similarities: the way they go about the game, the way they go about their business on and off the field, so professional in both ways, so respected by everyone. When you play with each of them you see why. They both do just do everything the right way, treat people the right way. It’s something that all of us can learn from.”
The 36-year-old Roberts won’t soon forget the experience.
“We all take things from every place that we’ve been and people that we play with, but certainly when you play with guys of that caliber and that stature in the game, I think it’s special for all of us to have the opportunity to do that,” he said.
Roberts played 51 games at shortstop in 2001, his first year with the Orioles, and has been at second base ever since. After spending 13 years with the Orioles, he signed as a free agent with the Yankees in January.
He returned to Camden Yards on Friday for the first time since his departure.
“It’s crazy,” he said in the New York clubhouse. “I don’t know if I walked in here one time in my career. It’s definitely strange to walk by the home clubhouse and come over here but it’s kind of a new chapter of life. I’m certainly excited to be back. Spent the night in my house. Good to sleep in your own bed sometimes.”
Roberts was extremely popular in Baltimore, but during the later stages of his career he played sparingly because of a variety of injuries — most notably a concussion that impacted his 2011 and 2012 seasons.
Being healthy with the Yankees was just what he wanted when he opted to play another year.
“It’s been great. That’s all I was hoping for this year was to have the opportunity to get out and play on a consistent basis and feel healthy and feel like I was contributing,” Roberts said. “From that standpoint, it’s certainly been a year I’ve been pleased with.”
Playing with the Orioles, however, was tough to beat.
“Certainly the 13 years that I had in Baltimore were the best years of my life,” Roberts said. “No one can take that away from us. Very appreciative to have those years. And now, to do this is just something new.”
New York manager Joe Girardi expected Roberts to get a warm reception from the fans at Camden Yards.
“He put up a lot of big numbers here, did a lot of great things here,” Girardi said. “He was a fan favorite for a long time here, so I would hope they would greet him well.”
When Roberts got to the plate in the second inning, he received a smattering of applause. He then drove the first pitch from Miguel Gonzalez over the right-field scoreboard for his fifth home run of the year.
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