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Former Tampa Bay Ray Rocco Baldelli still feeling his way around the Boston Red Sox

Rocco Baldelli comes to
Port Charlotte today for a
reunion with his former Rays teammates. He’s scheduled to be the designated hitter.

Associated Press

Rocco Baldelli comes to Port Charlotte today for a reunion with his former Rays teammates. He’s scheduled to be the designated hitter.

FORT MYERS — The other night, Red Sox outfielder Rocco Baldelli had an interesting dream: He won the lottery, striking it rich.

So on his way to the club's spring training complex Saturday, he dropped by a convenience store, bought a sports drink and a scratch-off lottery ticket. He sat down at his locker, next to reigning American League MVP Dustin Pedroia, and gave it a shot.

"The only way I was going to win that was playing the big one," said Baldelli, who smiled and added, "Didn't work out."

But Baldelli, 27, is betting his latest leap of faith — signing with his hometown team in the offseason after spending his first eight seasons with the Rays organization — could be a win-win situation.

Baldelli, who is slated to be Boston's designated hitter today against the Rays in Port Charlotte, still doesn't know how often he'll be able to play or what his role will be. But he said being with the Red Sox has, so far, had its payoffs and trade-offs, the biggest being a consistent chance to make it back to the World Series.

He admits there's "a lot more going on here than I'm used to," from the masses of fans who can name-drop with the Rhode Islander during autograph requests ("My sister used to babysit you") to the larger media horde that is always interested in the million dollar question. (He's considered putting up a sign at his locker that reads, "Feeling good, thanks for asking.")

But with a new diagnosis on his rare fatigue disorder and a new treatment helping him feel more relaxed about his health and allowing him to participate in regular baseball activities (minus conditioning), Baldelli can focus not only on how much he'll play, but on learning everybody's name.

"It's definitely fun. It's different, obviously," he said of adjusting to Red Sox camp. "It's kind of like it's a first day at a new school. I've known some people for a while but not really as a teammate."

Baldelli hasn't forgotten his former teammates. He had dinner last week with Evan Longoria, Andy Sonnanstine and Fernando Perez. He said some of his friends are still sporting their Rays gear.

It took some time after signing with Boston in January for it all to sink in.

"For a little while … it was like, you know how you are still writing 2008 when it's 2009?" he said. "Sometimes you slip up because you forget."

But it has finally sunk in with Baldelli finding a house in Boston (one he'll share with his brother who is going to dental school). He's taking it all in day by day, including this afternoon's reunion.

"I'm sure it'll be more fun than anything else," Baldelli said.

"I'll get to see everybody."

Joe Smith can be reached at joesmith@sptimes.com.

Former Tampa Bay Ray Rocco Baldelli still feeling his way around the Boston Red Sox 02/26/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 7:17am]
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