Rays confirm Baldelli retirement
The Rays have put out a press release confirming Rocco Baldelli's retirement and new job in their front office, as first reported in today's Times. Baldelli will meet with the media at 1:30 today at Tropicana Field.
Here is the team release:
ST. PETERSBURG, FL– Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli today announced that he has retired from playing Major League Baseball, ending a career that spanned seven seasons, all but one with the Rays.
Baldelli, 29, has accepted the position of special assistant to baseball operations with the Rays where he will be involved in scouting and player development.
“From the day he signed here in 2000, Rocco has earned the respect and admiration of both his peers and our fans,” said Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. “Though his playing career has ended, he will continue to make a tremendous impact on the Rays organization. His feel and passion for the game are outstanding, and we’re thrilled to have him in this role.”
In 519 major league games, Baldelli batted .278 with 60 home runs and 262 RBI. He hit a career-high 16 home runs in 2004 and again in 2006. His .444 slugging percentage is tied with Carl Crawford for seventh-highest in club history and his .280 average is eighth. His 35 assists are fourth all time among Rays outfielders.
A first-round draft pick of the Rays in 2000, Baldelli finished third in the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year balloting after batting .289 with 89 runs and 27 steals, all current Rays rookie records. He also led the AL with 14 outfield assists, only the 13th rookie to do so. Baldelli appeared in 156 games that season and 136 in 2004 when he hit .280 with 16 home runs, but injuries limited him to only 227 games the rest of his career.
He missed all of 2005 with knee and elbow injuries, but returned in 2006 to hit .302 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI in 92 games. In 2008, he was diagnosed as having mitochondrial disorder, a condition that slows muscle recovery and causes fatigue. He played in only 28 games in 2008, but was active for the postseason and hit a game-tying home run at Philadelphia in Game 5 of the World Series.
The Woonsocket, R.I. native joined Boston as a free agent in 2009, but signed a minor league contract with the Rays last July. In his first game back after joining the major league club, hit a pinch-hit home run on September 5 at Baltimore. Baldelli appeared in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against Texas but was removed from the playoff roster prior to Game 2 due to left leg fatigue.