tampabay.com

Baldelli buoyed by speedy recovery

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA and MARC TOPKIN
Published May 30, 2007


ST. PETERSBURG - Rays CF Rocco Baldelli said his recovery from a left hamstring strain is going so well that he could return to the lineup within 10 to 14 days.

"I did have a timetable from the doctors when I first got hurt, but I really tend to just go by how I feel, and I feel pretty good right now," Baldelli said Tuesday. "That's really the only thing I go by is how my leg feels. I've been hitting and throwing and I'm starting to do some running now. It feels good. It really does."

Baldelli hurt his hamstring running to first base May 15 and went on the DL two days later. It was believed that Baldelli, who has a history of hamstring injuries, could miss up to six weeks.

"He's feeling pretty good," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "We don't have any specific deadline on him yet, but he has been doing very well in the workout situation. There have been no setbacks. ... (Head trainer Ron Porterfield) felt he was a little bit accelerated in his comeback compared to where he had been in the past. We're just waiting to see."

Baldelli said he has resumed hitting at the Rays' minor-league complex and began light jogging the past few days.

"I'm picking it up from there a little bit every day," Baldelli said. "We'll see when I'm finally out there sprinting for a couple days in a row, I'd say I'm pretty much ready."

Maddon said he wasn't certain whether Baldelli, who will see live pitching in extended spring training games, will need a minor-league rehab assignment.

"Just knowing Rocco, I think that if he needs more time, he's going to say, 'I'm not seeing the ball. My timing's not good. I need some more at bats,'" Maddon said. "He'd be the first guy to tell me that."

JACK IS BACK: Maddon said RHP Edwin Jackson, who was hit in the face Monday, was sore but will likely make his next start Saturday against the Royals.

"I don't anticipate any negative impact from that," Maddon said. "It was a positive impact as it turned out. He should be fine."

MISCELLANY: With the Rays trailing by 10, Maddon pulled 3B Akinori Iwamura in the eighth as a precaution. ... The Rays have allowed a major-league high 67 homers. ... With two homers, Tigers DH and Tampa native Gary Sheffield recorded his 34th multihomer game. He passed Dave Winfield for 29th all time with 467. ... Triple-A Durham RHP Mitch Talbot, who struggled earlier, was named International League pitcher of the week (2-0, 0.64 in two starts). ... Senior adviser Don Zimmer and spring instructor Dave Martinez will represent the Rays at the June 7 player draft. Scouting officials will work from the Trop.