Blessed with incredible natural skill and burdened with a case of cell disorder channelopathy that sapped his muscles strength, it was almost impossible for Baldelli to ever reach his potential on the baseball diamond. When Lou Piniella broke camp with the Rays in 2003 he took Baldelli with him and the young New Englander, whom many compared in skill-set to Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio, began his march on the record books.
Alas, the illness made it too difficult for Baldelli to handle the strain of playing every day or matching up to such a lofty comparison and while his instincts and reactions were strong, his body was failing him. Last year, coming to play for his home-town Red Sox as a part-time player, Rocco contributed when he could, but being unable to play back-to-back games made it difficult for him to ever really get into a groove.
Today the Tampa Bay Rays announced that they have hired Rocco Baldelli as a special assistant with the team. "Obviously we're thrilled to add Rocco and his experience and what he can bring to our young players," Rays vice president Andrew Friedman said. "We think he'll be a tremendous asset for us. And he looks better in blue."
Officially, Baldelli has NOT retired, and there is a chance he could come back either this year or next, possibly with the Rays, but currently, a shoulder injury makes it unlikely in the near future.
Regardless, I've always loved watching Baldelli play, he doesn't run, he GLIDES, and when he was going well, the ball would ROCKET off his bat. If this is the end for the 29-year-old, I wish him the best of luck and happiness.