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Baldelli healthy and waiting in wings

Baldelli healthy and waiting in wings

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rocco Baldelli returned to the Rays on Sunday. He has not been activated, but he looked healthy and told reporters "everything went real well" during his recently completed rehab assignment at Double-A Montgomery.

"About as good as I could have asked," Baldelli said. "Felt good swinging the bat, running. I don't know, I was happy with how it went.

"I just felt good. I know that I was happy. When I finished up the rehab assignment, I figured I'd know and I'd have a good feeling about when in my head. I have nothing but positive reviews for myself. I was real happy about how it went."

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Baldelli, 26, hit .297 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 13 games at Montgomery after completing a similar stint at Class A Vero Beach, where he hit .216, while trying to overcome the effects of having a mitochondrial disorder. Baldelli announced his malady during Spring Training and he began the season on the 60-day disabled list. The disorder is an abnormality that has kept him in a constant stage of fatigue.

When asked about the next move, the bearded Baldelli shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't have the plan yet," Baldelli said. "Really don't have an answer, haven't talked to them yet."

Rays manager Joe Maddon did not have the chance to talk to Baldelli before talking to reporters on Sunday morning and said their conversation concerning the next move could take place Sunday after the game or perhaps Monday.

"He's fine, he looks good," Maddon said. "He looks healthy. It's a great look he's got going on. I'm still waiting to discuss this with him and Andrew [Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations]. ... There's nothing physical he has to do today to insure us that he's fine. I just need to talk to him specifically about how he feels. Hear it from his mouth."

If Baldelli is ready to go and can perform anywhere near the level he has in the past, he could become the right-handed bat the Rays have been looking for to help out against left-handed pitching.

Due to Baldelli's condition, he would not be used as an everyday player, but he felt confident about being able to platoon in the outfield and at designated hitter.

"I haven't had any more problems," Baldelli said. "I wasn't playing every day, which is something I have to do now. I don't think it's really realistic for me to be out there every day. But I'm OK with that. I'm happy with whatever role I have, if and when I get back with the team.

"I [was used sparingly] for the entire rehab assignment. I mean I could do it here, and it was pretty hot [in Montgomery], that didn't help the situation. I was able to get through it. It was a good experience."

Despite the fact Baldelli's return seems to be forthcoming, he said he still does not know what the future holds.

"I don't know what the long-term prognosis is," Baldelli said. "I don't think the doctors have complete knowledge of it because I think everybody's case is different. So I think you just stick with the treatments they give you and see where it goes. There's no real way to know what it's going to mean five or 10 years from now. It's something I try not to dwell on."

Baldelli did sound excited about the possibility of joining the team in the midst of a pennant race.

"It's somehting I've waited for the entire time I've been here with this organization," Baldelli said. "It's not something I was going to just let pass me by without a fight."

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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