As low as Roberson has laid, his continued presence speaks to what the organization thinks of him. Though Spring Training stats can often be misleading, Roberson is hitting .289 (11-for-37) with two homers and two stolen bases.
Roberson and Chris Coste survived and appear to be competing for what could be the 25th roster spot, barring a trade. Catcher Sal Fasano, infielders Abraham Nunez and Alex onzalez, and outfielder Shane Victorino have secured spots. General manager Pat Gillick continues to search for a fifth outfielder, preferably a veteran, before the season opener.
Another spot would be open if David Bell isn't ready to start the season.
Could Roberson, who has never played above Double-A, but has plenty of winter ball experience, be that guy?
"I call him a late bloomer," said Manuel. "He's has a lot of plusses. He can run and throw, is a switch-hitter and has power."
Manuel quickly offered this caveat, when asked about whether Roberson can handle big-league pitching in a part-time role. While Roberson's skill set might be what the team is seeking -- he can play all three outfield positions, can run, throw and catch and is a switch-hitter with some power -- indications are that he might best be served by playing every day at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
That's because he hasn't played above Double-A and is best served getting regular at-bats.
"Pinch-hitting usually is a veteran's kind of thing," Manuel said. "It doesn't mean a young guy can't do it. Victorino came up last year, but he had played a full season. The longer Roberson sits on the bench, I think the pitching would get ahead of him. If he would get 200, 250 at-bats, maybe he could hold his own, but it's a concern that it would be a setback if he's sitting on the bench. But he's definitely in the loop."
Roberson can see the logic, but he would happily accept a reserve role. At 26, and with the extra seasoning from winter ball, the confident Roberson feels like he can handle the jump.
"I started [playing] pro baseball late, so that's what set me back," he said. "I'm right on that bubble. I've been talking about all offseason for the past two, three years. I'm always a little bit behind, but I tend to catch up. I've always been a late bloomer."
"[So jumping a level] would really help a lot," Roberson said, smiling.