TAMPA, Fla. -- Second baseman Brian Roberts has yet to turn his first double play in a Yankees uniform, but he won't need much time to get acquainted with his partner up the middle, as Derek Jeter has already made a lasting impact on his career...
"I think it was maybe 2004. I was on second, and he just said, 'You can hit .300 in this league,'" Roberts said on Monday. "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."
The Yankees are counting on the fact that Roberts will be on the field as their starting second baseman. After missing 445 games over the past four seasons because of abdominal, hip, concussion and hamstring issues, he is optimistic about seeing more action.
"I try to take it one day at a time," Roberts, 36, said. "[Manager] Joe [Girardi] and I talked a little bit, and we have some expectations, but we haven't put too much on it right now. ... My goal is to come in every day and be prepared to play. Whatever he wants to do, if my name is in the lineup, I'll be ready to go."
Girardi expects Roberts to be his starter, but he is not ready to put a target number on how many games he will play. Girardi said that Kelly Johnson,Brendan Ryan and Eduardo Nunez could be the backup options behind Roberts.
"I still think that he can play and he can hit," Girardi said. "We saw it when he played against us. He's still a guy who can play at a high level, it was just he had a hard time staying healthy.
"He had some big years in Baltimore. I don't know if he's going to be that, probably because he won't play 160 games in the season, but I still think that this guy can be productive."
Roberts said that the comparisons with Cano will be inevitable, but he will try to block them out.
"I'm sure there are going to be people that are going to want to look out there and say, 'He's not Robbie,'" he said. "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."
Roberts lasted 91 games, batting .237 with 5 HRs. The Yankees waived him the day before he would reach 350 plate appearances, and earn a bonus. He finished with 348.