BOSTON — Ryan Roberts, presumably, didn’t run into Don Cheadle walking a llama, play Arnold Schwarzenegger in ping pong or mysteriously end up on stage at a OneRepublic concert. But Roberts’ 12 days between opting out of his contract with the Chicago Cubs on March 27 and signing with the Boston Red Sox on Monday have been interesting.
“If I had to relate it best, I’d say like the Bud Light commercial where they pick the guy up and they take him on a wild, crazy night and journey,” Roberts said Monday at Fenway Park. “That’s kind of been like my deal here. It’s been a crazy journey. It’s been an experience that I’ve never dealt with before. (I’ve had) long days. The days sometimes go by really fast. My days went by really slow. But it’s been a nice ride and learning experience and hopefully I just try to take every day with sound mind, calmness and trusting that God’s going to put me in a position on a right team I could excel with.”
The Red Sox signed Roberts to a major league contract Monday after placing third baseman Will Middlebrooks on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a right calf strain. Roberts is expected to provide some right-handed pop while platooning at third base with utilityman Jonathan Herrera in Middlebrooks’ absence, and it’s a challenge the newcomer is fired up about.
“Very excited. It’s a blessing to be here. I feel very blessed to be here and a part of this organization,” Roberts said. “I’ve played against the Red Sox for a few years and to actually put on a uniform it just gives you a different feeling, so I’m very excited about that. Hopefully I can add anything they need. … Hopefully my versatility can play a part in anything that they need.”
Roberts has played for four teams — Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays — in his eight-year career. The Cubs were his fifth franchise, but the inked-up slugger never appeared in a regular-season game because he opted out of his contract with the organization at the end of spring training. Roberts thus spent 12 days on the unemployment line before the Red Sox made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
“I can’t pick up the phone to call because I don’t have nobody’s number,” Roberts joked when asked about the free agency process. “I’m glad I don’t, though, because I probably would have made it a lot worse on myself. (I have) anxiety at times. Fortunately, I’ve got a good agent that handles all that stuff for me and I didn’t really have to worry about any of that.”
Obviously, there are no guarantees in baseball, especially as it relates to finding work. And while Roberts has had success — his best season came with the Diamondbacks in 2011, when he hit .249 with 19 homers, 65 RBIs and a .768 OPS in 143 games — there always was the possibility that no one would call the 33-year-old.
“It obviously comes into your mind,” Roberts said. “I just trust that God put me somewhere. He gave me the ability to play this game. It’s all I’ve played a while. Ever since I was little I played this. If the door closed on baseball, I just figured that another door would open. It didn’t close yet and I landed with a world championship team and couldn’t be more blessed.”
Just like Ian Rappaport of the aforementioned Bud Light commercial, Roberts sounds up for whatever happens next.