Baldelli and Rays can move forward
Shortly after batting practice Wednesday, Rays OF Rocco Baldelli will clarify that he won't be ready to play at least at the start of the season and will reveal some details - and possible explanations - of the mysterious medical condition that prevents his legs from feeling well enough for him to return to the field.
"It's not really encouraging right now, it hasn't really been progressing,'' manager Joe Maddon said during his morning media session. "It's one of those day by day situations and it's not moving forward.''
The revelations will be important for Baldelli, who has been in the uncomfortable position of offering vague answers and updates on his progress to a series of reporters and others on a daily basis. While it won't make him feel any better, explaining what he can should provide some sense of relief.
And it will be important for the Rays, who now can come up with a revised plan for the rightfield/DH slots, which Baldelli was to share with Jonny Gomes and Cliff Floyd. But what isn't known - yet anyway - is if the Rays will view this as a short-term situation and seek to fill the roster spot internally, with non-roster invitees John Rodriguez and Jon Weber standing out, or assume Baldelli won't be back anytime soon and seek more of a fulltime replacement, such as signing free agent Kenny Lofton.
Maddon said Weber looks to be the better defensive offensive player and Rodriguez the better offensive player and that both will get considerable playing time over the next week or so. Important to the decision is who can best handle being the backup centerfielder since the Rays don't have anyone else on the roster to handle that.
And this will all unfold on probably the biggest media day of the spring, with the Yankees making their only visit to St. Petersburg.
Baldelli is expected to continue his comeback attempt and not retire, as has been speculated. The Rays have to decide by April 1 on a $6-million option for 2009 or a $4-million buyout.