Rocco Baldelli is the Rays’ new first base coach

17 Comments

Health problems forced Rocco Baldelli into early retirement in his twenties, but he’s stayed in baseball working for the Rays’ in a front office role and now he’s back on the field as Tampa Bay’s new first base coach.

Baldelli, who’s still just 33 years old, joins 37-year-old rookie manager Kevin Cash’s coaching staff along with longtime Triple-A Durham manager Charlie Montoyo as third base coach. Tom Foley shifts to bench coach.

Baldelli was the sixth overall pick in the 2000 draft and ranked as the No. 2 prospect on Baseball America’s list for 2003. He debuted that season at age 21 and had back-to-back productive years as a speedy, good-hitting center fielder, but then the injuries started to pile up and he logged a grand total of just 429 plate appearances from age 25 on.