Brian Roberts has big shoes to fill in 2014. He is replacing arguably the best all-around second baseman in the game in Robinson Cano. Roberts has played in only 192 games over the past four seasons due to a slew of injuries that have sapped his abilities on the base paths and with the bat. Roberts has never played a regular season game with soon-to-be double play partner Derek Jeter, but he credits Jeter with a previous conversation the two men had early in Roberts’ career.
I think it was maybe 2004. I was on second or something and he just said, ‘You can hit .300 in this league.’ That was kind of, to hear it from someone like that, it just kind of opens your eyes. I don’t think it’s just me, I think he does it to everybody, but for some reason when he tells it to you, you think you’re the most important person in the world. He’s just kind of got that personality, and he’s so good with people.
Brian Roberts and Derek Jeter were briefly teammates on the United States team during the 2009 World Baseball Classic, but it was that conversation from years prior that stuck in the back of Roberts’ mind. Roberts, who is now 36-years-old, won’t say how many games he expects to play in 2014, and by all indications thus far, he’s as healthy as can be expected. He also knows that he is going to draw comparisons to Cano from Day #1:
I’m sure there are going to be people that are going to want to look out there and say, ‘He’s not Robbie, I’m not going to be Robbie and I’m not going to try to be. I’m going to be Brian Roberts. Hopefully that’s good enough most days.
After spending his entire career as one of the juggernauts of the Baltimore Orioles potent lineup, Roberts hopes to be able to contribute any way he can in what he terms “a place I respect alot”, and that he is also excited for the opportunity to play in New York.
If Brian Roberts needs any encouragement to be the best he can be in his first season as a member of the New York Yankees, he need look no further than to the man who told him he had the ability to succeed at the big league level all those years ago when the two men were opponents on the field, and Roberts can enjoy the chance to play alongside the captain during his final campaign as the face of the Yankees organization.