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Baldelli eyes return; Rays eye Rangers

OF Rocco Baldelli worked out before the regulars and continued to provide hope that he could return this season, albeit in a limited role.

"I can see it," Baldelli said. "I plan on coming back; I don't know when it's going to be.''

He won't be ready to come off the DL when eligible this week but was scheduled to have a conversation later Tuesday with Rays officials to discuss what his role would be if he came back, and is likely to soon establish a schedule that could start with him playing in extended spring training games.

"I don't anticipate it happening when I'm eligible to come off the DL (on Thursday) but I'm going to head over to the complex when the team goes on the road and try to ramp these workouts up a little bit, which I've already started to do,'' Baldelli said.

Baldelli has been sidelined since spring training with a rare condition that causes muscle fatigue in his legs. The first steps in his return could be "fairly soon, but I don't know how soon,'' he said.

Manager Joe Maddon stressed there was "no timetable whatsoever" but said Baldelli is "feeling better" and "we're cautiously optimistic about the whole thing.''

Also, Maddon said it likely will be just a matter of days before INF Willy Aybar is activated off the DL and added to the roster. Aybar has been out since mid-April.

The Rays should play inspired defense tonight as they are getting a pre-game speech from Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin.

Tonight's lineup:
Iwamura, 2b
Crawford, lf
Upton. cf
Pena, 1b
Longoria, 3b
Floyd, dh
Navarro, c
Hinske, rf
Bartlett, ss
Sonnanstine, p

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:35am]


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