- Associated Press - Saturday, July 17, 2010

BALTIMORE (AP) - Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts could return from his three-month stay on the disabled list as soon as next weekend.

The two-time All-Star has been on the DL since April 12. Since that time, he’s had to deal with a strained abdominal muscle, a herniated disk in his back and even pneumonia.

But Roberts has remained determined to return, and his hard work is on the brink of paying off. He is expected to join Double-A Bowie on a rehabilitation assignment Monday, and if all goes well, Roberts will return to his customary spot atop the Baltimore lineup within a week.

“He could,” interim manager Juan Samuel said Saturday. “It depends on his games there (in Bowie). Anything can happen. He’s anxious, he wants to be around, he wants to play.”

The 32-year-old Roberts missed much of spring training after receiving an epidural shot for his back. He played his first exhibition game on March 26, then participated in the first four games of the regular season before hurting himself while stealing second base against Toronto on April 9.

He hasn’t played since, which is why the Orioles intend to be careful before activating Roberts from the 60-day DL.

“You hate to see him come in and force everything just because he wants to be here,” Samuel said. “This is kind of his spring training right now.”

After missing so much time, Roberts is eager to get back.

“He talked to me about putting him in the lineup Monday, but that’s just not going to happen,” Samuel said with a knowing grin. “He feels 15 at-bats should be good for him. But again, we have to make a smart decision with the medical staff.”

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