Doctors thought he had a mitochondrial disorder, but his condition has now been diagnosed as channelopathy, a non-progressive, highly treatable disease.
"It's definitely an encouraging development," Baldelli told the St. Petersburg Times on Wednesday morning 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."
If, in fact, Baldelli, 27, sees improvement, he would likely be a highly desirable outfielder on the free-agent market. Already, he has talked with many teams, including the Rays, but his medical condition appeared to be a hurdle to clear.
Baldelli told the St. Petersburg Times he was not originally "misdiagnosed" as had been reported, rather the original diagnosis of a mitochondrial disorder was "the best diagnosis at the time."
Baldelli began the 2008 season on the 60-day disabled list with what was diagnosed as a mitochondrial disorder, which was cited as the cause for his constant state of fatigue. He misssed the first 116 games of the 2008 season before returning to play in 28 of the Rays' final 46 games, making 16 starts -- 13 at DH and three in right field.
When Baldelli played in his first game back on Aug. 10 at Seattle, he had a single in four trips to the plate while batting cleanup and playing right field. The game was his first Major League game since May 15, 2007 at Disney when the Rays played the Rangers.
Baldelli also mised all of the 2005 season due to two major injuries. He tore the ACL in his left knee in October 2004 and he tore the ulner collateral ligament in his right elbow while rehabbing from the knee injury in June 2005.
Prior to April 1, Tampa Bay declined to pick up his $6 million option for the 2009 season. By declining the option, the Rays had to pay him $4 million, which allowed Baldelli to become a free agent at the end of the 2008 season. Had the Rays exercised the option, the team would have had to face the same question of whether to renew him for '10 and '11 at a cost of $17 million or buy him out at $2 million.
The Rays selected Baldelli with the sixth overall pick of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft out of Bishop Hendrickson High School in Rhode Island. He has a .281 career average in 447 Major League games, with 52 home runs and 234 RBIs.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.