FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Second baseman Brian Roberts was scratched from the Orioles' lineup a few hours before gametime on Tuesday, in order to protect the two-time All-Star from aggravating a lower back injury. Roberts has had a stiff lower back for the better part of a week, and Baltimore manager Dave Trembley wanted to make sure he keeps his leadoff hitter healthy.
"His back has been bothering him for a couple days. I had him in there today," said Trembley of the late lineup change. "His plan was to play today and tomorrow, not Thursday, play Friday. I think he saw [team physician] Dr. Wilckens this morning, and Dr. Wilckens said something about a couple trigger points in his lower back flaring up."
Trembley replaced Roberts with Scott Moore and expressed hope that the injury won't have any long-term effects. Trembley said that the infielder should be ready to go by Opening Day, an assessment Roberts agreed with whole-heartedly.
"It's one of those things that you play with all the time," he said, addressing the injury. "It's not that big a deal. If it was the season, I'd be playing. I'd just rather be 100 percent on Opening Day than let it keep nagging."
The switch-hitter has faced rabid trade rumors this spring, a topic he declined to discuss with the media. Trembley acknowledged them, however, and said that Roberts has handled the scrutiny well. The manager also said that Roberts recently met with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail to discuss the situation.
The meeting didn't produce a resolution, and Trembley said it doesn't make much sense for Roberts to dwell on it.
"I operate under the premise that Brian Roberts is the starting second baseman on this club," he said. "That's how I've operated since I came to camp. But I'm also aware of the other circumstances that have presented themselves. In due time, that question will become clearer and clearer or will be better answered when we get to Opening Day."
The Cubs have been the main team linked to Roberts trade rumors, and the late scratch from the lineup may have set imaginations afire with visions of a late-breaking deal. Trembley squashed that theory dead in its tracks Tuesday, though, and said that he wasn't privy to any of the closed-door conversations between rival executives.
"There's no conspiracy theory. I wouldn't do that," he said of inventing an injury to cover for a potential trade. "If something was going on with Brian Roberts, I wouldn't have his name posted in the lineup and then pull him. I'd never be disrespectful to him or to Baltimore Orioles fans by coming up with some phony injury. I'd tell the truth."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.