Nate Roberts is on the comeback trail.
Roberts, who notched the second-highest batting average in Arizona Fall League history in 2012, has endured two right knee surgeries and a year-and-a-half on the sidelines, but now he's healthy again and batting .538 through his first four games for Class A Fort Myers in Minnesota's farm system.
Roberts, a 25-year-old outfielder, went 4-for-5 with three doubles and two RBIs in his third game of the season on Monday and 3-for-4 with a double and two more RBIs in his fourth on Wednesday. He finally feels like the player who batted .446 for the Peoria Javelinas during the 2012 AFL campaign. And that's a bit of sweet redemption for Roberts, who has endured a lot of pain to get back on track.
"It's been so long since I've been able to play in a real game and actually feel good with my body," Roberts told MILB.com after the latest four-hit game of his Minor League career. "It's been fun playing baseball again, and to have a game like that, it makes it even more fun."
Roberts, a fifth-round selection in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, is a career .309 hitter in the Minor Leagues, and the 2012 season was shaping up to be his calling card. Roberts batted .299 with 25 extra-base hits for Class A Beloit in 2012 before heading to his star turn in the AFL.
But that's where his career took a detour. Months after winning the AFL batting title, Roberts injured his knee in a preseason workout, and he re-injured his knee in his first competitive game of the season. Roberts played just one game all year last year before undergoing season-ending surgery.
From there, Roberts underwent 13 months of recovery and rehabilitation, and he tested the durability of his knee with 30 games in extended Spring Training. Roberts stepped back into the lineup for Fort Myers on June 19, and he's hoping to firmly put all his injury troubles behind him for good.
"It took me a while since I hadn't played," Roberts told MILB.com of regaining his confidence in his ability. "I hadn't even run in eight or nine months before I started running a little in February. It took me a while to actually get to playing, get the muscles used to running."
Roberts has never played above Class A, but he's experienced success at every level of the low Minors. He started out his career by batting .336 at rookie-level Elizabethton, and the next season, he batted .302 for Class A Beloit. Now, if he keeps hitting, he's hoping to climb the organizational ladder.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less