Roberts back after 13-month layoff
Soon after a concussion interrupted his baseball career, Brian Roberts was more concerned with simply living a normal life than returning to the game he loves.
"There were times throughout the process that the future looked so bleak," the Orioles second baseman said Tuesday, hours before he was to play his first major league game in 13 months.
Roberts sustained a concussion while sliding into first base in a game against the Red Sox on May 16, 2011. He had been sidelined before with a concussion, but this one was far more severe.
Burdened with headaches and dizziness, the two-time All-Star wondered if he would ever be able to do many of the simple things that most people take for granted.
"I haven't started a family yet, I haven't had kids yet. I have a wife that I want to love and support the rest of my life, and all those things take physical abilities to be able to do," he said.
Roberts received a standing ovation before his first at-bat Tuesday at Camden Yards. He was 3-for-4 with an RBI in Baltimore's 8-6 victory.
Tigers closer Jose Valverde denied throwing a spitball in the ninth inning of Sunday night's 7-6 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
An Internet video showed Valverde putting his glove, with the ball in it, to his mouth before delivering a 1-2 pitch to Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco. Mesoraco swung and missed at the 94-mile per hour fastball.
"It's nothing. I never did anything wrong," Valverde said. "I put my glove on my mouth, yeah. Why? Because I sweat too much. That's it.
"Everybody can say whatever they want to, but I wasn't doing anything wrong because I've never spit on the baseball. Everybody said what I was doing, but when you play in a stadium like that, Cincinnati is so hot. I sweat too much."
Valverde is 3-1 with 12 saves in 15 chances. He has a 3.91 ERA.
He said he has not been contacted by Major League Baseball.
"When they want to talk, I'll be here all the time," he said.
■ Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said Tuesday's surgery on his injured right knee "went perfectly" and he is looking forward to beginning his rehabilitation. The 42-year-old career saves leader tore his right ACL and damaged meniscus in the knee while shagging fly balls in batting practice May 3. A blood clot in his right calf delayed the surgery until Tuesday.
"I think we're all expecting to see Mo pitch next year," Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said. "I really don't think we're going to see any issues."
■ The Blue Jays granted Vladimir Guerrero's request to be released from his minor-league contract. The 37-year-old free agent hit .303 in eight games at Triple-A. Toronto signed him to a minor-league deal on May 10. There was no immediate word on why Guerrero asked for his release.
■ The Dodgers signed outfielder Andre Ethier to a five-year deal through 2017. Ethier leads the National League with 53 RBI.
■ The Cubs fired hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo after losing 40 of their first 60 games.