Rays exercising caution with Baldelli

Rays exercise caution with Baldelli

ST. PETERSBURG -- Prior to Saturday night's game, manager Joe Maddon reiterated that "everything seems to be in good order" concerning the rehabilitation of Rocco Baldelli.

The Rays skipper also expected to sit down and talk with Baldelli personally to discuss the next phase of the outfielder's rehab sometime on Saturday.

Sidelined since Spring Training, the 26-year-old Baldelli is currently on the Rays 60-day disabled list with a mitochondrial disorder that has kept him in a constant stage of fatigue.

After playing several extended spring games, the Rays were cautiously optimistic in placing Baldelli on a rehab assignment with Class A Vero Beach. In his first two games earlier in the week, Baldelli went 3-for-6 with two home runs as Vero's designated hitter.

Friday night, Baldelli went 0-for-3 and was hit by a pitch, but the Rays remain optimistic about his progress.

While Maddon did not rule out the possibility of moving Baldelli to a different Minor League level, he said it is likely Baldelli will remain in Vero.

When the Rays initially announced plans for Baldelli's rehab assignment the plan was only laid out for the first three games. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the rehab assignment for position players is 20 days and the Rays want to exercise caution in progressing Baldelli.

The Rhode Island native has a .282 career average in four Major League seasons with 48 home runs and 221 RBIs; he hit just .204 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 35 games during 2007.

Andrew Friedman, the Rays' executive vice president of baseball operations, was not available for comment on Saturday but did say upon the initial announcement of Baldelli's rehab that the manner in which the outfielder's body responded to playing would dictate any further plans.

"Usually at the beginning, you can lay out the exact schedule of what someone is going to do -- the expectations for getting them back to the Major League level," Friedman said upon the June 14 announcement of Baldelli's assignment.

"But this obviously is a different situation, and we're going to treat it as such and continue to monitor it very closely. It's certainly a positive development. That said, it's one step closer, but we still have a lot of work to do to get him back and helping the team win games."

Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.