Baldelli rejoins Rays as "special assistant," but also "not ready to retire," has shoulder issue
UPDATE, 10:55: Friedman said the deal was not done with the idea of having Baldelli play for the Rays in 2010, but "anything's possible." Baldelli said he wouldn't be able to throw due to his shoulder condition right now, though apparently he is able to hit and DH. Baldelli wouldn't get into the specifics of what was wrong with his shoulder, though said he eventually may need surgery. But he'll rehab for now and if that works, it's possible he could return to play the outfield.
"I'm not ready to retire, I do have a shoulder issue that I'm dealing with right now. It's something ... I need to address it, just because I don't want to walk around in pain anymore. It's something that affects my ability to play, so it's something that I have to take care. I don't think I'm ready to retire, I'm only 28 years old. But at this point I can't really do what I want to do on the field. I wasn't comfortable going to spring training this year, because I wouldn't be able to perform.''
Baldelli said he hurt his shoulder midway through last season with Boston and "I played the second half of the season with it" and wasn't able to get going this off-season throwing again, it was something I couldn't deal with." He said he was in the process of determining "what does need to be done,'' and likely would try rehab on his own first. "My shoulder does need to get some work done on it whether it be now or eventually some day,'' he said.
Baldelli agreed to a one-year deal, and said he hadn't thought ahead to future seasons. "Hopefully, some day, maybe I can play again,'' he said. "If it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen.''
UPDATE, 10:38: Baldelii will be a special assistant, working with young players. Said he is "not ready to retire" and has a shoulder issue, but has no set plans to return to field as a player.
Baldelli, 28, will be a roving instructor concentrating on outfield and baserunning.
“Obviously we’re thrilled to add Rocco and his experience and what he can bring to our young players,” Friedman said. “We think he’ll be a tremendous asset for us. And he looks better in blue.”
Also: "It was a no-brainer for us," Friedman said. "We think from all the time Roc's been in this organization, all the positive relationships that he's formed, the experiences he can share with our young players, it's something we're very excited about."
Said Baldelli: "I'm going to have fun with it. I think I'm going to have fun being out on the field again and having the Rays jersey on and going out and trying to do anything I can to help the young players in the organization.''
Also: "I don't think I'd want to do it in any other organization than this. I feel like this is my home.''
DEVELOPING: Former Rays OF Rocco Baldelli is here at Rays camp, with exec VP Andrew Friedman. Details to come.
Baldelli played with the Rays from 2003-2008, overcoming a series of medical issues that threatened his career, then was not re-signed. He spent last season with the Red Sox, and has been unsigned.