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Notes: No return imminent for Baldelli

Notes: No return imminent for Baldelli

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rocco Baldelli has not played since March 4 when he was used as the designated hitter against the Twins.

Baldelli wasn't in the lineup again on Sunday and manager Joe Maddon said he will not be in the lineup on Monday against the Indians. On Saturday, Maddon said the Rays need to know something about Baldelli's availability later this week.

In light of those comments, Baldelli was asked if he felt any pressure.

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"I don't feel any pressure," Baldelli said. "I'll do what I feel I can. I guess you could say it's precautionary."

Baldelli said he can't categorize the problem that's preventing him from coming back full bore after missing most of the 2007 season with hamstring problems.

"Categorize it? I haven't been able to do it to this point," Baldelli said. "It is difficult to categorize it."

Baldelli said he has not talked to anybody about when he might be back on the field.

"[We're] just kind of waiting right now," Baldelli said.

Baldelli managed a smile when asked if he was disappointed with not being on the field.

"Yeah, I always want to be on the field," Baldelli said. "I haven't wanted to go through any of this. I mean, I have no real choice about when I get out there. I'll get out there when I can."

The Rays will have to make a tough call in regard to Baldelli by April 1. Under the terms of the long-term contract he signed after the 2005 season, the Rays have until April 1 to decide whether to pick up his $6 million option for the 2009 season. If the Rays decline, they must pay him $4 million and Baldelli would become a free agent at the end of the 2008 season. If they exercise the option, the Rays would then have to face the same question of whether to renew his contract for 2010 and '11 at a cost of $17 million or buy out his contract at $2 million.

More about Price: David Price made his dazzling professional debut on Saturday in Tampa, Fla., against the Yankees, only to return to St. Petersburg to find that Troy Percival had gotten the last laugh.

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Earlier in the spring, Price had used the veteran closer as the punchline to his required rookie joke. Percival responded on Saturday by doctoring up Price's BMW with three large stick-on decals of Percival on the hood and the passenger and driver-side doors.

"I thought it was a great concept with Percy," Maddon said. "I knew he would come up with something from the moment the joke occurred. Again, I knew it would have something to do with Price's car at some point. It couldn't have been better than what he did. It took a lot of money and imagination."

Maddon was asked if Price had the "inner fortitude" to respond.

"I think he has the inner intelligence to not," Maddon said.

Up next: The Rays will host the Indians on Monday afternoon in a 1:05 ET contest at Progress Energy Park, home of Al Lang Field. Right-hander Jason Hammel will start for the Rays and will be followed by Grant Balfour, Trever Miller, Al Reyes, Wade Davis and Jake McGee. Right-hander Paul Byrd will start for the Indians.

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

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