Baldelli takes new position in Rays' front office





ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. — Rocco Baldelli would rather be playing baseball.

But with his body not allowing him to continue his career—the result of an unusual disorder that saps his strength and causes fatigue in his muscles—Baldelli will do the next best thing, which is working in baseball.

Baldelli retired at age 29, and his new assignment is as a special assistant in the Rays front office with responsibilities in player development and scouting.

Though Baldelli has ample reason to look back with regret, he insists he is happily looking forward, proud of what he could accomplish before being limited by what was first diagnosed as a mitochondrial disorder and revised to a less severe channelopathy. He said he's excited by and grateful for the opportunity Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman afforded him.

"I realize this isn't something every former player gets to do," he said. "This is pretty special, and for that I'm really, really thankful."

Baldelli's duties will include roving coaching stints, scouting amateur players for the upcoming draft and other assignments, similar to what he did for the first few months of the 2010 season before making his last comeback.

"Part of the really interesting thing for me is being able to do anything I'm asked," Baldelli said. "A lot of the appeal is that I get to do a lot of different things, I get to mix it up and see all the different parts of the organization instead of just one."

Baldelli said he enjoyed his experience working with the minor leaguers during his previous stint. "I've gone through almost exactly what they're going through," he said. "I don't know anything that anybody else that went through it doesn't know, but if I can articulate it in a way that one of these young guys understands, then I've done something to help. I had a great time last summer, and I'm sure I'll get into it even more now."

COOL RAYS

• Work started in late January to replace the FieldTurf at Tropicana Field with a new Astroturf that is supposed to look darker and more like natural grass.

• Righthander Dirk Hayhurst, author of the book "The Bullpen Gospels," was among five players signed to minor league contracts with spring-training invites. The others are righthander Jonah Bayliss, outfielder Chris Carter, infielders Daniel Mayora and Ray Olmedo.