The San Diego Padres have had cancer impact their organization as much or more than any other organization in baseball. Tony Gwynn was diagnosed, Darrell Akerfelds lost his battle, and Dave Roberts has been dealing with his own fight. Fortunately, Tony Gwynn seems to have beat the disease, and now so has Dave Roberts.
Jay Paris of the San Diego Union Tribune had the good news. Paris says that six months of chemotherapy helped Roberts beat cancer, but he understands it could come back, and he understands how blessed he is.
Roberts was diagnosed with cancer at an early-enough stage only because Buddy Black, the Padres manager, managed to convince Roberts to stay on as a coach for the team. Roberts was considering a TV gig in Boston, but Black convinced Roberts of his value to the players. Roberts stayed with the team, underwent a routine physical, and the cancer was discovered. Now he is cancer free and looking forward to coaching his players.
“It is that sense of optimism,'' said Roberts, as the Padres' first-base coach readies for Tuesday's reporting date. “Everyone is excited, and for the most part, everyone is healthy. The bodies are feeling good after the winter workouts.''Roberts played for the Padres for a couple seasons, but he is best known for his stolen base in the 2004 playoffs while a member of the Boston Red Sox. His stolen base is credited as being the catalyst that helped Boston overcome their 3-0 deficit in the ALCS.
In his career, Roberts was a .266/.342/.366 hitter. But he didn't get chances at the Major League level because of his bat. He got chances because of his speed and his glove. Six times in his career, Roberts stole more than 30 bases in a season. He had a knack for getting on base then swiping a bag. But no steal was bigger than the one against the Yankees way back in 2004.