Padres assistant Roberts has lymphoma
Ten-year player best known for stolen base in 2004 ALCS
SAN DIEGO -- The two rounds of chemotherapy that Dave Roberts has gone through to combat his Hodgkin's lymphoma have occasionally robbed him of that continuous supply of energy that defines his personality.But it hasn't stripped Roberts of his infectious smile or certainly his will to beat the cancer, which he disclosed to reporters in a conference call on Monday. "There have been some tough days for me, going through chemo," Roberts said. "But my spirits continue to be high and, if you know me, they will continue to be. I expect to be fully recovered." Roberts, a Major League outfielder for 10 seasons and currently a special assistant in the Padres' baseball operations department, was diagnosed with the Hodgkin's lymphoma in March during Spring Training. "Fortunately, the prognosis is very positive," Roberts said. "We got it at an early stage." Hodgkin's lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is part of the immune system. As it progresses, it compromises the body's ability to fight infection. It's one of two common types of cancers of the lymphatic system. The other type, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, is far more common. "The 'wow factor' got us," Padres manager Bud Black said. "But once he ran us through what the doctors had said, then you feel a little better about it. He has handled it great, he's doing what he needs to do. He's in good hands, and he's going to do whatever he can for the Padres. We love having him around." Before arriving in Arizona for the start of Spring Training, Roberts noticed a lump on his neck. Roberts said that when the lump became tender and started to grow, he alerted the Padres medical staff. "It was early enough that everyone feels pretty good about it, where I think I can make a full recovery," Roberts said. "It was a surprise to me. I felt like I was in good health. The more I read about it, I'm more in-tune with it now." Roberts continued his work during Spring Training, working with baserunners on being more aggressive, outfielders on their defense and hitters on their bunting skills. Roberts opted not to tell the players he was working with about the Hodgkin's lymphoma. "I'm doing good. Once the initial shock wore off, I'm at the stage now of 'what can we do to beat this?" Roberts said. "My wife [Tricia] is incredible. She's been a pillar of strength. I'm feeding off her energy as well." Roberts played for the Padres in 2005-06, rejoined the club in December after spending the 2009 season as an analyst for the New England Sports Network. Roberts played parts of 10 seasons in the Major Leagues with the Indians, Dodgers, Red Sox and Giants before retiring after the 2008 season. He had a career .266 average with 243 stolen bases. "I expect Davey can outrun anything," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona in Boston. "He's got a lot of people here pulling for him. I think he probably feels that everywhere. Everywhere he's been, I would think he's got people pulling for him." Roberts, who will continue his work as a special assistant with the Padres, said that he's thankful to the organization for their support and for allowing him to work "at his own pace." "I may have never met a more positive person," said Padres outfielder Kyle Blanks, whom Roberts helped make the adjustment from playing first base to the outfield during Spring Training. "Everyone here is behind him 110 percent. When we heard and still saw him out on the field, it's kind of like a testament to the type of person he his. He's still around, he's still willing to do whatever he needs to do to help. He's a great person, a great player and he's going to be fine." Roberts said his trips to PETCO Park to work with players and the success of the team thus far -- the Padres are 16-9 and in first place in the National League West -- have been cathartic for him. "I feel good. As this process as gone on, I've been more educated," Roberts said. "You have to deal with some of the side-effects of chemo. But it's been good to come to the ballpark and work with players. "That keeps me going and keeps me positive."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.