Originally posted on Oriole Post  |  Last updated 5/24/12

This is a piece I wrote for MASN Sports this morning. I've got a feeling this is going to be a hot topic for quite a while.

***

As we all know, veteran Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts returned to competitive baseball last night as he played three innings for the Double-A Bowie Baysox last night.

Roberts is playing for the Baysox as part of a rehabilitation assignment. He's missed much of the past two seasons dealing with post-concussion syndrome issues and other injuries.

His Wednesday night was pretty mundane, as he walked in both his plate appearances and made some routine plays in the field.

No matter what you think about Roberts and whether or not it is a good move to let him attempt to have a role on the Orioles, he could serve as a catalyst for the team moving forward.

Well, that's assuming if he can return to the form that made him an All-Star multiple times and show that his skills have not eroded from missing more than a year with concussion symptoms.

Keep in mind, Roberts is 34. The sport of baseball, as we have seen over the past few years, has transitioned to a much younger man's game due to drug testing, the eradication of some substances from the game and the emphasis on getting better value out of prospects.

From this point forward, Roberts will be watched closely by everyone - from the front office and media down to the Orioles' fan base hoping for a winning season after 14 frustrating years.

Over the past few years, he has obviously become a lightning rod for a group of fans.

Some people thought Roberts was stealing millions from the Orioles for his lack of productivity for the past two years; furthermore, there's a minority who have accused him of grand larceny despite being out due to injury.

However, it's fairly obviously loves the game and it undoubtedly was killing him that he could not play.

Frankly, I did not even think Roberts would make it this far this soon. It seems like most didn't, either.

We all could see the emotion on his face during interviews and in various media reports. He's been pretty much at every home game this season, rooting on his team, trying to be a part of things, acting as a de-facto coach in the dugout.

However, if Roberts was to come back and play during the 2012 season, would he ever be the same? Considering the amount Roberts has left on his contract, plus his service time and reputation within the organization, he will get every opportunity to show that he can play.

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