Rocco Baldelli stops coaching to begin comeback at Single-A

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Rocco Baldelli played reasonably well as a backup outfielder for the Red Sox last season, but after struggling with a shoulder injury in the second half he decided to spend the first half of this season as a “special assistant” for the Rays. That role involved mostly coaching minor leaguers, but now Baldelli is ready to join them on the field.
Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that he’s officially signed a minor-league contract with the Rays and will be in the lineup at high Single-A tonight as a designated hitter. In addition to Baldelli the Rays’ high Single-A team also includes former No. 1 overall picks Tim Beckham and Matt Bush.
Of course, assuming he looks to be in decent playing shape and avoids more health problems Baldelli may not stay at Single-A very long. Topkin speculates that he could be promoted to Double-A or Triple-A within 2-3 weeks as the Rays evaluate him as a possible part-time outfielder for the stretch run and playoffs. He’d need to be added to the roster by August 31 to be postseason eligible.
Despite seemingly being around forever and having his career stalled numerous times by health problems Baldelli is still just 28 years old and has hit .257/.323/.448 in 254 plate appearances over the past two years.

Rays trade Jake Odorizzi to Twins

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The Rays have traded right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, per team announcements on Saturday evening. The Twins will receive minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios in the deal. Despite previous speculation, recently-DFA’d outfielder Corey Dickerson was not included in the trade.

With Odorizzi, the Twins finally have the front-end starter they’ve been seeking all winter. It’s a bargain deal as well, as the 27-year-old righty is under contract through 2019 and didn’t require the club to part with any of their top-shelf prospects in the trade. Odorizzi will be looking to stage a comeback in 2018 after a dismal performance with the Rays last year, during which he eked out a career-worst 4.14 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 143 1/3 innings.

Palacios, 21, ranked no. 27 in the Twins’ system last season. He split his year between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, raking a combined .296/.333/.454 with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. He’s expected to continue developing at shortstop, though he’s also seen limited time at second and third base during his four-year career in the minors.