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Hamstring forces Baldelli out

As if his 1-for-40 slump at the plate weren't bad enough, things suddenly got worse for the Rays CF Rocco Baldelli in the first inning Tuesday.

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA
Published May 16, 2007


LAKE BUENA VISTA - As if his 1-for-40 slump at the plate weren't bad enough, things suddenly got worse for the Rays CF Rocco Baldelli in the first inning Tuesday.

Baldelli left with a left hamstring strain after visibly favoring his left leg halfway up the first-base line during the Rays' 4-3 10-inning win over the Rangers at the Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.

Baldelli, who has battled hamstring injuries in the past, will see team orthopedic physician Dr. Koco Eaton today and be re-evaluated.

"It's tough, " Baldelli said. "Sometimes it doesn't feel so bad. I give it a couple days and it improves and other times it doesn't. ... I'll probably know more when I wake up in the morning."

Baldelli missed the first two months of last season with a left hamstring strain he suffered during spring training. He also trained his right hamstring this spring. And though Baldelli returned in time for opening day, manager Joe Maddon has had more freedom to give Baldelli days at DH with the emergence of Dukes. Baldelli, who also missed two games after banging his right knee into the outfield wall April 26, had made 20 starts in CF and 15 at DH.

Baldelli is hitless in his past 17 at-bats, his average dropping from .275 to .204. Nine of his past 23 plate appearances ended in strikeouts.

NORTON DAYS AWAY: Rays DH/1B Greg Norton, who Sunday finished a seven-game rehab assignment at Double-A Montgomery after right knee surgery, is still days from returning to the team. Maddon said Norton's knee has been sore since sliding in a game early in his rehab.

"There's nothing necessarily bad or wrong with it except that it got sore on him, " Maddon said. "It just backed him up. It's going to be a bit longer, but I don't think too much longer."

Maddon said Norton, who was 7-for-25 with the Biscuits with two doubles and four RBIs, will not be activated during this series in Orlando.

AKI UPDATE: Injured Rays 3B Akinori Iwamura took 10 swings of batting practice off a coach Tuesday, and Maddon said he expected Iwamura to increase to 30 swings today.

"He had a really good day, " Maddon said. "He's been running. He's been fielding. He's doing very well actually."

Maddon said that Iwamura should be able to play in a simulated game at the Naimoli Complex in a week and after that go on a minor-league rehab assignment. It appears that, with that schedule, Iwamura is still about 2 1/2 to three weeks from playing in a major-league game.

MINOR MATTERS: At advanced Class A Vero Beach, LHP Jake McGee pitched seven shutouts innings Tuesday, allowing five hits with six strikeouts and no walks in a 2-0 win over Daytona. ... At Triple-A Durham, RHP Steve Andrade's ERA ballooned from 0.98 to 4.50 Tuesday after he allowed eight earned runs on seven hits over 12/3 innings. Starter Mitch Talbot lasted three innings, allowing five runs - two earned - on seven hits while walking four and striking out two.