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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Rocco Won’t Displace B.J. This Year
Posted Aug 10, 2007 by Marc Lancaster
Updated Aug 10, 2007 at 07:00 PM
ARLINGTON, Texas—If all goes well, Rocco Baldelli should begin a minor-league rehab assignment by the end of the month. It won’t last long, as the minor-league regular season ends on Labor Day, but don’t look for Baldelli to step right back into his old spot in center field once he rejoins the Rays.
Considering both the need to continue developing B.J. Upton as an outfielder and Baldelli’s dicey medical history, Joe Maddon said Baldelli will be more of a spot starter in center when he returns.
“B.J. would get the preponderance of the time in center field,” said Maddon. “[Baldelli] would DH a lot, he would play some outfield – we would be really careful with his legs.”
Asked about Baldelli playing first base, Maddon said it hadn’t been discussed. He could get some time in left or right field to give Carl Crawford and Delmon Young a day off in the waning days of the season, though.
“It’s all about how he feels,” said Maddon. “When he comes back, of course I want him to play, but I don’t want to push him. … We’ve got to be smart about this. Hopefully this is the last time this ever happens and we can just move forward.”