Is Baldelli Waiting on Rays?
The Tampa Bay Rays hope to start talks soon on a new contract with right fielder-designated hitter Rocco Baldelli. Recent trade rumors have surfaced that Baldelli, a free agent has been linked to several teams. These teams includes the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies, who defeated the Tampa Bay Rays for their first World series since 1980.
Baldelli, who was selected by the Rays in the 1st round of the 2002 draft, hit a solo homer in Game 5 of the World Series, and was one of this season’s MLB’s most inspirational stories.The 27-year old returned to play part time on Aug. 10 after missing 240 games due to mitochondrial disorder, which slows muscle recovery and causes extreme fatigue. For the regular season, Baldelli hit only .200 during the 2008 playoffs, but in the postseason he posted 2 homers and 6 RBI’s for the Rays, and had a slugging percentage of .500 for the entire playoff series for the Rays.
During his limited time with the Rays in 2008, Baldelli hit .263 in 80 at bats, and hit 4 homers and 13 RBI while posting a .475 slugging percentage during his limited appearances in 2008.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Rocco on and off the field,” Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Thursday.
“We do have a special relationship. To be a part of what he’s gone through, and see him at the lowest of moments, I think, has created that personal relationship. I’m sure we’ll talk in the next few days.” In March, Baldelli thought his career might be over because of his physical problems. He went on two minor league rehab assignments before rejoining the team.
Rather than exercise an option for 2009, the Rays bought out the final three years of Baldelli’s contract for $4 million at the end of spring training.
“I don’t know what to expect,” Baldelli said. “This is the only place that I’ve ever played in. I’m very comfortable here. Everyone’s been very supportive through all this stuff that I’ve been dealing with. I’m thankful for it.
“(Some) teams would have probably turned their back on me when I was going through a lot of these troubles. It is a business. I love playing here, and I’m just going to wait and see what happens.”
If you would like to see a blog I wrote earlier in the month about the Rocco Baldelli Press Conference, and the complications of his fatigue syndrome. Please consult the archives on my blog site and read about the syndrome and the huge change that medication and his personal aggressiveness for change made him a MLB caliber player again for the Tampa Bay Rays.