Rocco Baldelli spent nine years in the Rays organization before signing with the Red Sox last season, but now he’s back in Tampa Bay as a “special assistant.”
Baldelli said that he’s “not ready to retire,” but the 28-year-old outfielder has had numerous health problems in recent years and is currently sidelined by a shoulder injury. And if he’s not officially calling it quits, he certainly sounds willing to consider the idea:
I need to address it, just because I don’t want to walk around in pain any more. It’s something that affects my ability to play, so it’s something that I have to take care of. I don’t think I’m ready to retire, I’m only 28 years old. But at this point I can’t really do what I want to do on the field. I wasn’t comfortable going to spring training this year, because I wouldn’t be able to perform.
Baldelli explained that he played through the shoulder injury during the second half last season, hitting just .215 in 28 games, and “couldn’t deal with” it again after he “wasn’t able to get going this offseason throwing.” So for now he’ll be a roving outfield and base-running instructor working with young players, which should be interesting given that he’s actually younger than 14 guys on the team’s 40-man roster.
“Hopefully, some day, maybe I can play again,” Baldelli said. “If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.”
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.