Baldelli excited about possible return

Baldelli excited about possible return

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli was not activated prior to Monday's game, but he sounded like he expected to be back in uniform soon.

"I've been waiting a long time to come back and it seems like something that's going to happen, so I'm pretty excited about that," Baldelli said. "I don't really know how I'm going to feel when I get back out there. I know it's been a long time. ... I'm just excited to get back out there. It's been a long time coming."

Baldelli, 26, announced during Spring Training that he was suffering from a mitochondrial disorder and he began the season on the 60-day disabled list. The disorder is an abnormality that has kept him in a constant state of fatigue.

In four Major League seasons, he has a .282 career average with 48 home runs and 221 RBIs; he hit just .204 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 35 games in 2007. He has not played in the Major Leagues since last May.

"There were probably days when I didn't know if I would be coming back and it was really difficult, physically, mentally and psychologically," Baldelli said. "It's been a difficult period of time. I'm not back yet, so I don't want to get ahead of myself. Like I said, I'm really looking forward to this on a lot of different levels."

Baldelli hit .297 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 13 games at Double-A Montgomery after completing a similar stint at Class A Vero Beach, where he hit .216 while trying to overcome the effects of his malady.

Monday saw Baldelli sit down and talk with Rays manager Joe Maddon and Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

"We had a nice conversation," Maddon said. "... We'll talk to him again tomorrow about where it's at. We did have a discussion about how we would use him, what the parameters would be."

Some possible scenarios would be playing against left-handed pitching, pinch-hitting, and serving as a designated hitter. Maddon elaborated about Baldelli being used against left-handers by saying, "If you're only seeing righties, do you want to sit him on the bench that long without participating?

"All these little different things pretty much started up the conversation," Maddon said. "That was pretty much the crux of the conversation today, the variable situations.

"It was just a nice exchange trying to figure out where everybody was at right now. I was good with the whole thing, I feel comfortable about what he's doing today. And we'll talk about it again tomorrow."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.