Baldelli wraps up rehab assignment
Rays slugger meeting with club this week to discuss future
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rocco Baldelli wrapped up his rehab stint with Class A Vero Beach on Sunday afternoon, going 1-for-4, including an RBI single, in a game against the Sarasota Reds.
But while the 26-year-old Baldelli fared well enough for Vero Beach -- going 6-for-29 with two stolen bases -- it is unclear what the Rays' next move will be.
Baldelli said he would likely head to Tropicana Field on Monday and talk with the club, although he was unsure about any specific plans.
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the rehab assignment for position players is 20 days and, although the Rays want to exercise caution in progressing Baldelli, they will have to decide on a course of action early this week.
Baldelli didn't mention moving up a Minor League rung following his time in Vero Beach, and Rays manager Joe Maddon didn't dismiss the option.
"When we go home and re-evaluate it, that's possible," Maddon said.
The Rays skipper also touched on the topic briefly from Pittsburgh, where the Rays wrapped up a six-game road trip.
"We're just trying to do this one moment at a time," Maddon said. "We're evaluating it in these little segments. Again, this is uncharted territory for all of us. I'm not 100 percent sure how it's going to work yet. We're just trying to get him better."
Sidelined since Spring Training with a rare mitochondrial disorder that causes constant fatigue, Baldelli appeared in nine games in Class A, alternating as the team's designated hitter and a pinch-hitter.
"I felt pretty good playing," he said. "I haven't played some competitive games in a while. The last couple days I didn't swing the bat as well as I wanted to, but that happens."
Of his six hits, Baldelli notched a double and two home runs -- both of which came earlier in the week.
"He's been doing fine," Maddon said. "He's still not there yet. He's hit a couple home runs in one game. He has not played the outfield yet, so we're cautiously optimistic that he's going to be able to come back at some point."
Although Baldelli did not play the field, he was pleased with his body's response, noting that he had not begun any new treatment or altered his conditioning plans while with Vero Beach.
"My body's actually doing OK, it's handling this role as well as I could have hoped," he said. "It's a new role, and it's a little bit different than what I'm used to, but it's something that I'm happy about."
Baldelli has a .282 career average in four Major League seasons with 48 home runs and 221 RBIs. Plagued by injuries in his short career, Baldelli appeared in just 35 games in 2007, hitting .204 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
He is currently in the final year of his three-year contract and, following the Rays' decision to decline his option, will become a free agent at the end of the 2008 season.
Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.