Rocco back in the postseason
I’m branching out for the next couple of weeks, covering the Rays-Rangers in the Division Series and then the American League Championship Series.
When there are items that might interest Red Sox fans, I will post on Brownie Points.
Today is one of those items. Rocco Baldelli — Rhode Island Rocco, and Red Sox Rocco in 2009 — has made the Rays’ postseaon roster. Not only that, but he is starting at DH today against Cliff Lee.
Not bad for a guy who started the year as a Rays’ Spring Training instructor while rehabbing a shoulder injury that he quietly played through in Boston last year.
While Baldelli has always been a big name to Rhode Islanders, he is also a well-chronicled figure here in St. Pete. When Baldelli came up with the Rays in 2003, he seemed to have endless potential and might even be on his way to stardom. But injuries started to become a major obstalce as far back as 2005.
In 2008, he was diagnosed with channelopathy, a protein regularity which led to severe fatigue.
I know that Terry Francona and his staff were big fans of Rocco last year, and he would have been on the postseaon roster if not for an ill-timed hamstring injury he sustained at the end of the regular season.
Baldelli made it back to the Majors as a September call-up this year and delivered by going deep in his first at-bat, clubbing a pinch-hit blast against Mike Gonzalez.
Did the Rays think it was realistic he could help them in postseason?
“Well, when Rocco came back, we did that with the intent that it was possible,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “We didn’t know that it would happen but we thought it would be possible. When he went back and began playing in the Minor Leagues, the game was rather quick for him. I think he would tell you that himself. But he started down pretty quickly and then did relatively well in his Minor League at bats, came up and with us has done a pretty nice job against the left handers specifically.
” The other day he had a pinch hit against Hughes. He stole second base in Kansas City and scored that winning run. The big thing that I’m seeing with Rocco right now that I like is how he’s taking pitches. He hasn’t been jumpy. He’s seeing the ball better or well, and he’s got enormous power. Hit a pinch hit home run versus I think it was GonzŠlez in Baltimore earlier this month. Just looks good at the plate right now, and again, this guy if we can find some kind of help for him in the future to get him back playing on a more consistent basis and he’s one of the more talented players I’ve been around, period, anywhere. We feel pretty good about him right now, and again, he looks really good at the plate, I think.”
As for another popular former Red Sox, Gabe Kapler finished the season on the disabled list and, from what I can gather, hasn’t been around the Rays for weeks.