No timetable for Roberts' return

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles could be forced to go several months without second baseman Brian Roberts, who conceded Sunday that the timetable for his return from the disabled list is very much uncertain.

Roberts was placed on the 15-day DL on April 12 with a strained abdominal muscle and to receive further treatment on a herniated disk in his back. His stomach is no longer an issue, but he's still not ready to test his ailing back.

At this point, there's no telling when he will be cleared to begin baseball activities.

"I don't know if it's three weeks or three months," Roberts said. "I don't think it will be three months. That's not a scenario we talked about. But I don't have any answers at this point, so I can't rule that out."

The two-time All-Star 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 in a game against Toronto on April 9.

He received another epidural shot soon after that, and remains in a holding pattern.

"This time we're being more cautious, taking it a little slower," he said. "There are things we're still waiting to see. We're waiting for improvement in certain areas."

He won't accompany the team to New York and Minnesota for a road trip that begins Monday, but he's been with the Orioles during their current homestand. Watching Baltimore get off to a 6-18 start has left him feeling helpless.

"It's been difficult for sure, watching the team struggle," he said.

Adam Jones has been batting leadoff for Roberts and Ty Wigginton has been manning second base. It could be that way for a while.

"As soon it as was announced to me it was going to be weeks ... we just had to prepare ourselves accordingly," manager Dave Trembley said. "That's why I put Jones in the leadoff spot and I'm not going to tinker with it. Because I couldn't tell you when Brian is going to come back."