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.

Ramón Laureano made an absolutely ridiculous play yesterday

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I talked about it in the recaps, but dear lord does Oakland A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano’s play in yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays deserve it’s own post.

Jays first baseman Justin Smoak led off the second with a single Then Teoscar Hernández then came up and hit a long drive to center. In what, in and of itself, would’ve lead the highlight reels yesterday, Laureano ranged back to the wall and reached over to rob Hernández of a homer.

Laureano is known best for his arm, though, and that’s when he unleashed that hose, attempting to double off Smoak at first base all the way from the warning track. The throw was not on target — indeed, it sailed way past first base — but that was itself impressive as all get-out. As A’s pitcher Brett Anderson said after the game, he’s pretty sure the throw went farther than Hernández hit the ball in the first place. The arm strength on display there was simply phenomenal. But it was also lucky.

Lucky because the throw went so far into foul territory that it gave Smoak the courage to break for second base. Laureano was not the only one playing great defense on the play, though: A’s catcher Nick Hundley backed up the play, got Laureano’s errant throw and fired it down to second, nailing Smoak. And heck, Hundley’s throw was nothing to sneeze at either:

That did not go as an outfield assist for Lauerano, obviously, as his bad throw — which would’ve been an error had Smoak managed to advance, we must admit — broke that up. So, in the books it goes as an F7 and then a separate 2-4 putout. Still, it just shows Laueano’s incredible defensive abilities, both with the leather and with that cannon he has for an arm.

An arm that, this play not withstanding, gets him plenty of assists. Indeed, he has has five assists this season already and has 14 assists in just 70 games, which is a lot. To put it in perspective, it usually takes somewhere between 12-18 to lead the league in a full season with 20 being an outlier of sorts, only seen once every five years or so.

So, if you’re gonna hit it to center against the A’s, make sure you hit it all the way out. And if Laureano gets to it, for god’s sake, don’t run on him.