Roberts signs two-year extension

Roberts signs two-year extension

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Orioles announced on Wednesday that they have signed second baseman Brian Roberts to a two-year contract extension through the 2009 season that is reportedly worth more than $14 million..

"We would have liked to have had him a little longer, but we'll take this," said Jim Duquette, the club's vice president of baseball operations. "This will put a little pressure on us to get something done with him in 2008."

Duquette then turned to Roberts, who was sporting a much shorter haircut than earlier in camp. "We're glad to get this done so he could get a haircut and get cleaned up," Duquette said with a smile.

Roberts, a 29-year-old switch-hitter, batted .286 last season with 34 doubles, 10 home runs, 55 runs batted in and 36 steals over 138 games. He was coming off elbow surgery in 2005, after a season in which he hit .314, with 45 doubles and 27 steals.

"I'd love to be here forever, if that's possible," Roberts said. "But now I have three more years to have the opportunity to try and take this team where we all want to go with it. My gratitude goes to the city, the fans and the organization for believing in me."

Roberts, through his agent, had told the Orioles that he wanted a contract extension to be completed by regular season's start or he would wait until the season was over.

Roberts said the Orioles have shown him that they are committed to challenging for a World Series title.

"I love being here, but you can't play this game and not want to win," he said. "I feel like our organization has done a very good job of putting together a team that can go out there and try to do that."

Roberts, the 50th overall pick in the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, made the American League All-Star team in 2005.

"Brian epitomizes the kind of player we are building around, and we're extremely pleased to work out this extension to keep him in an Orioles uniform for the foreseeable future," said Mike Flanagan, the Orioles' executive vice president for baseball operations.

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"We believe we have a strong nucleus and Brian is part of that core group of players," said Flanagan.

Manager Sam Perlozzo echoed similar sentiments.

"In the last 10 years, there is not a man on this ballclub who's worked any harder than Brian, especially to come back from that injury," Perlozzo said. "I'm tickled to death about having him for at least three more years."

Perlozzo then injected a little humor. He recalled that Roberts began as a shortstop.

"He asked me if I have flashbacks about him playing shortstop when he first came up," Perlozzo said. "I told him they were nightmares."

Said Roberts: "Early as a player I wasn't very good. But they hung with me, and I started to improve. I still had no idea I would be here today."

Roberts said when he left Yankee Stadium after severely injuring his elbow in 2005, he wasn't sure he'd ever be able to play again.

He said he weighed the idea of waiting to be a free agent, but not for long.

"I realized this is where I want to be," Roberts said.

This lucrative deal seals his financial security, but he said money is not as huge a consideration as people might think.

"That's the way the business is now, but if you talk to anybody, the money is really secondary," he said. "You obviously have to do what is right for your family, but it's not going to change my life, change the way I play, change anything about myself."

And, best of all, he can concentrate of helping lift the Orioles to the prominence they once had.

Charlie Nobles is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.