07/26/12 12:27 AM ET
Roberts makes triumphant debut with Rays
By Greg Luca / MLB.com
Just before 8 p.m., he was circling the bags and touching home plate, celebrating his first home run in a new uniform.
A couple of hours later, he was celebrating his first Rays win.
"It was awesome, man," Roberts said. "Great group of guys and everybody is real good. Made me feel right at home, so no awkwardness today."
Acquired from the Diamondbacks via a trade on Tuesday night, Roberts faced the unenviable task of packing and keeping things organized with his two-year-old daughter Hudsyn and pregnant wife, Kim, who is expecting their son Lyric in September.
As Roberts sat through the four-hour, 15-minute plane ride to Baltimore, he felt like time was at a near standstill.
"It just seemed like it was my fault for not having anything to do but playing video games on my phone," Roberts said. "Every time it seemed like I was checking my watch it was just like 10 minutes and 20 minutes had passed."
Wheeling a small suitcase into the visitor's clubhouse at Camden Yards just over two hours before first pitch, Roberts exchanged introductory handshakes with teammates Desmond Jennings, Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist before rushing off to a meeting in manager Joe Maddon's office.
"First thing was get here, and try to meet as many people as I can and try to introduce myself to everybody and just try to fit in," Roberts said. "Everybody embraced me and made me feel really good."
Roberts hit seventh and started at third base for the Rays on Wednesday, filling a spot in the order that had been unsettled and often unproductive in Evan Longoria's absence.
Roberts said he was comfortable playing anywhere, and he just wants "to contribute any way I can."
"As Longo gets well, it's nice to know that we have a player of his caliber and stature to be able to play with," Maddon said. "He'll play a lot of third base right now. He'll play some second base, he might even dabble at shortstop."
"There's other positions that he can play, also. We'll see how we're going to move it around. I'm eager to get him out there and watch it."
Roberts hit .250 with six home runs, 34 RBIs and six stolen bases in 83 games for the Diamondbacks this season, playing 60 games at third with a .957 fielding percentage.
In his career, Roberts has hit .250 with 35 home runs and 134 RBIs across 390 games in seven Major League seasons.
"I know just from watching him play that he's going to like playing here," Maddon said, "because we're going to like having him play here, too."
Roberts seems to share that view.
He was already familiar with B.J. Upton and Jeff Keppinger coming in, but got a nice taste of the Rays' laid-back nature during the postgame celebration.
"It's a nice atmosphere, I really like it," Roberts said. "I heard if you win a lot of games it gets crazier. So I can't imagine how much crazier it'll be, but I'm willing to hopefully stick around and see it."
Greg Luca is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.