Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rocco Baldelli joins minor-league team, hopes to return to majors with Tampa Bay Rays

Rocco Baldelli looked like a future star after his first two seasons with the Rays before injuries and illness derailed him.

Times (2008)

Rocco Baldelli looked like a future star after his first two seasons with the Rays before injuries and illness derailed him.

BALTIMORE — Rocco Baldelli took the first step to returning to the Rays this season by signing a minor-league contract Monday and joining the Class A team in Port Charlotte.

And even though his next strides were back to the dugout — he struck out all four times as the Stone Crabs' DH (twice looking, twice swinging) — the Rays will give him plenty of time, likely until late August, before deciding whether to make a no-risk, potentially high-upside stretch-run addition.

"We're excited for Rocco to continue his playing career," Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said. "He still possesses the natural physical ability to help us down the stretch, but it will take some time to get him back into optimal playing shape for us to make the most informed decision possible."

Baldelli, 28, hasn't played in games since finishing 2009 with Boston, spending this season as a special assistant coach in the Rays' minor-league system, though working out often, occasionally with the big-league team. He's expected to need an extended period of time in the minors to get ready, perhaps two to three weeks with Charlotte before moving up to Double A or Triple A.

That's fine with the Rays, who in theory could wait until the Sept. 1 roster expansion anyway (then figure out a way later to make him eligible for postseason play if warranted).

"I think that's reasonable; that would be about a 5½-6 week gig," manager Joe Maddon said. "By that time you should have a pretty good indication of what you think about his abilities."

There used to be no question. Baldelli was a promising future star until his career was derailed by a series of injuries, then a mysterious illness, diagnosed as mitochondrial myopathy, then channelopathy, that sapped his strength and, even now on a stabilizing medication program, limits his availability. Baldelli has been rehabbing a shoulder injury but has showed in recent workouts he can throw well enough to play the field.

"He'd be one of the best players in this league right now with good health," Maddon said.

But the potential of using him as a DH, pinch-hitter and occasional outfielder is enough to keep the Rays intrigued, with Maddon raving that he still has "great bat speed" and "a ton" of power.

"If you watch him work out, it's incredible," Maddon said. "He's still such an interesting athlete. … Don't know where it's going to lead, but I think it's a good idea. … I don't think there's a downside."

After playing at home through Wednesday, the Stone Crabs will be in the Tampa Bay area for a week, playing at Clearwater Thursday-Sunday and at Tampa July 27-30.

Rocco Baldelli joins minor-league team, hopes to return to majors with Tampa Bay Rays 07/19/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 8:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Doug Martin relying on strength from drug rehab to power his return

    Bucs

    TAMPA — He would not talk about the drug he abused. He would not identify the rehab facility he entered in January or how long he was there.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin participates in an "open OTA practice" at One Buc Place, the team's training facility, in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
  2. NCAA: Former USF basketball assistant gave improper benefits

    Colleges

    TAMPA — Former USF men's basketball assistant coach Oliver Antigua provided impermissible benefits, including lodging at his home, for two prospective student-athletes while they received on-campus tutoring, according to findings reported to the school by the NCAA.

  3. Back to .500, Rays feel ready to roll (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Who wants to be mediocre? Middling? Average? Run-of-the-mill?

    Rays catcher Jesus Sucre tags out the Angels’ Mike Trout trying to score from second base after a perfect peg from rightfielder Steven Souza Jr. in the first inning.
  4. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. preserves shutout with perfect throw

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The closest the Angels came to scoring off RHP Matt Andriese in Thursday's 4-0 Rays victory occurred in the first inning, when DH Mike Trout tried to score from second on a single to right. But the throw from RF Steven Souza Jr. was on the money, and Trout was out.

    "That …

    Colby Rasmus collects high fives and shoulder rubs after driving in all four of the Rays’ runs in their victory Thursday. Rasmus had two run-scoring hits a day after hitting a home run.
  5. Rays at Twins, 8:10 p.m. Friday, Minneapolis

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Twins

    8:10, Target Field, Minnesota

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: RH Chris Archer (3-3, 3.76)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Chris Archer #22 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)