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Tampa Bay Rays free agent Rocco Baldelli says new diagnosis should help him play more regularly

A new diagnosis of a less severe and treatable condition has given free agent outfielder Rocco Baldelli confidence he could soon return to playing "much more" regularly.

Baldelli missed most of last season, was limited after his August return to the Rays and faced an uncertain future due to extreme muscle fatigue that was eventually diagnosed as a mitochondrial disorder.

But doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have since reviewed more sophisticated testing that indicates his condition is a channelopathy, and with an increased dosage of medicine he is currently using with good results, Baldelli is optimistic about his health and his baseball career.

"It's definitely an encouraging development," Baldelli said Wednesday from his Rhode Island home. "Knowing this is a treatable condition, I feel this is a very positive thing for me and my baseball career. With this less severe diagnosis, I hope to be on the field on a much more regular basis."

Channelopathies are diseases involving dysfunction of ion channels that can involve potassium, sodium, chloride and calcium, and other areas, according to MedicineNet.com.

Baldelli said he was not "misdiagnosed" as reported by Rhode Island TV stations on Tuesday, but the mitochondrial disorder assessment was "the best diagnosis at the time."

Baldelli, 27, doesn't know how often he'll be able to play under the new treatment plan, and that obviously will be a major topic in his discussions with any team, including the Rays, who allowed him to become a free agent after the season.

A half-dozen others have expressed interest, including the Red Sox, Yankees, Reds and Phillies.

The Rays have some interest in bringing him back but hope to first resolve their quest to add a big bat before determining how/if Baldelli fits. If they sign a hitter who can also play the outfield, it would be easier to have Baldelli on the 25-man roster; if they sign strictly a DH, it would be a tougher fit without knowing if Baldelli can fill in regularly in the field.

Also, reliever Scott Doh­mann, who pitched in 12 games for the Rays and had 20 saves at Triple-A Durham, is headed to Japan after agreeing to a one-year, $650,000 deal with Hiroshima.

Tampa Bay Rays free agent Rocco Baldelli says new diagnosis should help him play more regularly 12/17/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 3:42pm]
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