Roger Mooney covers the Tampa Bay Rays for The Tampa Tribune, TBO.com and News Channel 8. He has covered the Rays since their first season in 1998, including 11 years for the Bradenton Herald. Roger has also covered Florida, South Florida and Florida State football, the Bucs and the Lightning.
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Baldelli dealing with muscle ‘abnormalities’
Posted Mar 12, 2008 by Marc Lancaster
Updated Mar 12, 2008 at 01:30 PM
Rocco Baldelli addressed his mysterious medical problems for the first time today, saying a litany of tests by doctors around the country had revealed “some type of metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities.”
Essentially, his body is not allowing his muscles to work as they should and made it all but impossible for him to sustain any kind of regular activity on the field for any length of time. The problem is he isn’t replacing “ATP”—adenosine triphosphate—properly. This site provides an explanation of how ATP plays into exercise, including this summary: “ATP is required for the biochemical reactions involved in any muscle contraction. As the work of the muscle increases, more and more ATP gets consumed and must be replaced in order for the muscle to keep moving.”
Baldelli will open the season on the disabled list and it’s unclear when—or if—he might return, though he said he is not retiring.
Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said the team is not likely to pick up Baldelli’s 2009 contract option by the April 1 deadline but said he hopes Baldelli remains with the Rays for his entire baseball career.
Baldelli’s opening statement lasted nearly four minutes and he took questions for about 10 minutes after that. Here is his statement in its entirety:
This offseason, because of the physical problems I’ve been having, I started along with the team’s help to search them out and go see some doctors and try to find out what’s going on.
I was having a lot of problems the last couple years with my muscles and muscle strains. I think a good way to describe it is literally muscle fatigue and cramping, way before my body should be feeling these things. I would go out there and I was pretty much incapable of doing basic baseball activities as far as running and hitting and throwing.
These were things that I had done my whole life pretty easily and at some point in the last two years – we’re not exactly sure why – these things started to change. It was tough for me to deal with, but with the team’s help, they sent me to specialists, basically flying me around all over the country to try to figure out what was going on.
What the doctors eventually found through all of this was I have some type of metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities. Basically, somewhere along the line in my body – I don’t want to get too deep into the medicine because it’s not really my expertise, but either my body isn’t making or producing or storing ATP the right way and therefore not allowing, apparently, my muscles to work as they should and, especially, recover on a day-to-day basis. So it becomes very difficult to get on the field every day and play.
When I say fatigue, I go out there and my body is literally spent after a very short amount of time out on the field, which makes it extremely frustrating and difficult, but it’s something that’s kind of a reality right now and something we’re dealing with the best that we can.
As far as my baseball career, I’m not here to stand in front of you telling you I’m retiring. We’re still going to pursue every avenue that we can to try to figure out what is going on, have a better understanding of what is going on. But at this time, throughout all of the extensive testing that we’ve done, we don’t have a concrete answer. The doctors’ consensus is that these are the problems that I’m experiencing and there’s a lot of medical proof of these things, but they’ve been unable to specifically identify an exact reason or an exact problem down to a specific name. That’s kind of frustrating, but that’s why we’re going to continue along with the team’s help to find out what’s going on.
I feel comfortable about this because the team has been so good to me and supported me in every possible way I could imagine. Without that, I don’t know really where I’d be right now, because this is as probably as difficult and frustrating a thing as I’ve ever had to deal with as a person. Like I said, we’re going to do everything we can to fix and hopefully solve this problem, and that’s pretty much where I’m at right now.
Andrew Friedman said he would be happy to address the Rays’ plans to replace Baldelli tomorrow, but the team certainly will be compelled to make a move.
For now, he said, the team is focused on helping Baldelli learn more about the problem and find a way to deal with it.
“First and foremost is quality of life for Rocco, for him to be able to wake up and feel good every morning, and then we’ll start to focus on the baseball side,” said Friedman. “That’s absolutely secondary here and we’ll do everything we can to go through these different levels of figuring out where we are and where we can go.”