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O's Roberts still tough, effective

Chapel Hill product has placed Mitchell Report in the rearview mirror

July 13, 2008

By David Driver
For the Chapel Hill News, used with permission

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Brian Roberts stood in front of his locker, just minutes before taking the field for batting practice before a June 27 game against the Washington Nationals.

The Chapel Hill High School graduate had returned just hours earlier from Chicago's Wrigley Field, where he collected the 1,000th hit of his career in his first game at the venerable park.

The recent three-game series at Wrigley Field ended a tumultuous six-month stretch for Roberts, the former University of North Carolina standout who was drafted by the Orioles in the first round in 1999 after one season at South Carolina.

Roberts, the all-star second baseman for the Orioles, was mentioned in trade rumors with the Cubs throughout spring training and into the spring.

Even more taxing, perhaps, was when his name was included in the Mitchell Report in December that detailed the use of steroids by Roberts, who admitted to those charges a few days later.

"Life throws a lot of things at you," Roberts said. "I just try to deal with them the best you can."

Roberts, a fan favorite in Baltimore and just the 13th Oriole to reach 1,000 hits with the club, said he has spent a good deal of time over the past few months reading Proverbs.

"I rely on those all of the time," said Roberts, who was the Freshman of the Year at UNC in 1997 and later transferred to USC.

He added: "My faith is what I rely on. It is a short time (on Earth). This (baseball career) isn't the rest of my life. This is not what I live for. That is the best thing about having your faith."

Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie has been impressed with how Roberts has handled himself this year.

"I know he has moved on" from the Mitchell Report, Guthrie said. "You learn from the past. He has a very good understanding of the game. He is very good at what he does. He teaches by example every day."

Roberts, 30, certainly has not let the Mitchell Report and trade rumors affect his performance.

He had a triple down the right-field line and double down the left-field line against the Nationals in that June 27 game as he extended his season-high hitting streak to 14 straight games. In that stretch he had 10 doubles and scored 15 runs.

In his first 305 at bats this season Roberts hit .298 and led the league with 29 doubles and seven triples. He also had five homers and 30 RBIs.

"That is the nature of the business. You prepare to play every day," he said. "My job is to prepare to do my job. That is what I have tried to do since the first day of spring training."

What was it like to be in Chicago after the trade rumors?

"The fans are great. The city is great. It is a fun place to play," he said. "It was certainly interesting to go there after the rumors. I had never been there before."

"I don't know what will take place," he added. "I don't worry too much about the future. I just worry about today."