Rocco Baldelli went before the Tampa Bay media this afternoon to explain his decision to retire as a player and take a job as a special assistant in the Tampa Bay Rays front office, saying, simply: "I physically don't feel like I should be playing anymore.''
Baldelli, 29, said he was proud of what he accomplished and had no regrets over his career being cut short by injury and a mysterious illness, diagnosed first as mitochondrial disorder and then a less severe channelopathy, that sapped his energy and affected his muscles. His decision to retire was first reported in today's Times.
"I'm extremely proud of everything that I've been able to accomplish and I feel extremely fortunate for everything I've been able to do,'' Baldelli said.
Baldelli said he was sad, and sometimes emotional, about not being able to play anymore, but knows it is the right decision. "I've had some tough days, but I've had some good days too,'' he said.
Baldelli will work in scouting and player development for the Rays, and thanked executive VP Andrew Friedman for giving him the opportunity, explaining that he thought every day for years about what he was going to do when he was done playing and never came up with a good answer. "What I know best is baseball,'' he said. "I realize this isn't something that every former player gets to do. This is pretty special and for that I'm really, really thankful.''