Ryan Roberts Makes 25-Man Roster

Ryan Roberts beat out Alex Romero, Josh Whitesell, James Skelton, Josh Wilson, and others for the final positon player spot on the Arizona Diamondbacks by proving that he can play defense anywhere on the field and showing some life in his bat.

Ryan Roberts may have to add another tattoo.

Roberts, whose multiple body tattoos tell what he calls "the journey in my whole life, the ups and downs," was a somewhat surprising choice as the final position player on the D-backs' 25-man roster after coming to camp as a non-roster invitee.

The first baseman/outfielder hit .280 with two home runs, 10 RBI, and four stolen bases this spring and will be a second reserve infielder behind Augie Ojeda. Roberts also played the outfield and caught twice in spring training. He has spent bits of the last three seasons with Toronto and Texas, playing 18 games total.

"He can play the outfield. He can play the infield. He can catch. Usually the last guy on the roster, you like to have some flexibility and do some things. He certainly can do that," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said.

"We had him catch a couple of times, once in the minor leagues and once at the big-league level. He showed he is not just an emergency guy. He's a guy who knows what he is doing back there. He gives you more than just the emergency catcher role. He's got some pop in his bat. He can hit the ball out of the ballpark."

Melvin, a reserve catcher most of his eight-year major league career, broke the news to Roberts after the D-backs' exhibition game Friday night.

"I tried to think of things to say that would describe the feeling," Roberts said. "I have no idea how to describe it. It's a relief. All the hard work and everything that you have done for so long in this game. The travel through the minor leagues. To not make teams in spring training. To finally do it is a blessing."


--RHP Max Scherzer will open the season on the disabled list, but the D-backs expect him to return for his first scheduled start April 14, the first time a fifth starter is necessary. Scherzer suffered shoulder soreness in his offseason throwing program and was delayed in spring training, although he hit 95 mph in his last spring outing.

--OF Eric Byrnes hit .344 in 10 spring training games after slowly returning from hamstring issues and will open the season as the fourth outfielder. He is the backup at all three spots and will be used to give CF Chris Young some time off. Young played 160 games last season and 148 the year before.

--RHP Brandon Webb will make his fourth consecutive opening-day start for the D-backs on Monday against Colorado. It will be his third opening-day start against Colorado, his first at Chase Field. He won his first start in Cincinnati last season en route to a 9-0 record in his first nine starts, the second time a major leaguer had done that since 1920.

--INF/OF Ryan Roberts, 28, claimed the last spot on the 25-man roster and will open the regular season on a major league roster for the first time in his seven-year pro career. A non-roster invitee, Roberts was selected over C James Skelton, 1B Joshua Whitesell, and INF Josh Wilson, but manager Bob Melvin was impressed with all four candidates.  "Josh Wilson and Mr. Whitesell had great camps," said Melvin.  "We saw Whitesell last year and saw his offensive numbers, and he's come a long way defensively this year. He had a great camp. He's certainly a guy we wouldn't hesitate to (promote) if we did have an injury or something along those lines."

--LHP Travis Blackley, whose time in camp was short because he pitched for Australia in the World Baseball Classic, accepted an outright assignment to Class AAA Reno and will join the rotation there. The D-backs signed Blackley and added him to their 40-man roster December 18.

DIAMOND STAT: 11-23 -- the D-backs' record in exhibition games, the worst in franchise history. They were 12-18-1 last season.

QUOTABLE: "I look forward to the challenge." -- Arizona shortstop Stephen Drew, who will bat third in the order against right-handers this season and second against lefties after leading off most of 2008.

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