Baldelli completes 20-day rehab stint

Rays outfielder to meet with Maddon to discuss return plans

(Al Behrman/AP)

By Bill Chastain / | August 2, 2008 3:06 PM

ST. PETERSBURG -- Rocco Baldelli completed his 20-day rehab stint Friday night while playing for Double-A Montgomery, but he had not arrived to the Rays' clubhouse prior to Saturday night's Rays-Tigers contest.

Rays manager Joe Maddon expects to meet with Baldelli on Sunday while the team considers activating him to the roster.

"I want to talk to him," Maddon said. "I think part of it is to see how confident he is in himself, too. And I think that matters beyond the physical stuff. So we get a chance to sit down and visit with him.

"His conversations with [head athletic trainer] Ronnie Porterfield have been really good. I know that he's very confident. He's feeling good about himself. We just want to be able to see it in person and move it along from there."

Baldelli, 26, hit .297 with three home runs and eight RBIs in 13 games at Montgomery after completing a similar stint at Class A Advanced Vero Beach, where he hit .216, while trying to overcome the effects of having a mitochondrial disorder. Baldelli announced his malady during Spring Training and he began the season on the 60-day disabled list. The disorder is an abnormality that has kept him in a constant stage of fatigue.

"The times to first base kept getting better," said Maddon about the reports he's received on Baldelli. "Really had good at-bats last night -- they said he drew two walks, had two really good at-bats, and took some borderline pitches."

If Baldelli manages to make a return with the Rays this season, Maddon said he would not be used every day, but he could be used in a platoon situation at designated hitter and the outfield.

"Just like we set up the rehab assignment, all those different ways he was used there, we thought might be the different ways we would use him here," Maddon said.

Earlier this season, Maddon said that in order for Baldelli to return to the team this season, he would need to be able to contribute.

"It would not be an easy decision [about whose place Baldelli might take]," Maddon said. "That's why we really want to know what we have to do. And again, we still have a couple of more days to figure it out. We'll try to make our best guess at that point.

"But if Rocco is able to play and perform, you've all seen what he can do in the past. And it sounds like he's performing close to that level again, and that makes it very interesting. The big problem is the fatigue factor and how much we can use him and how we can use him."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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