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.”