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Injury could keep Baldelli out 6-8 weeks
The Devil Rays said they got good news Thursday when an MRI exam of CF Rocco Baldelli's reinjured left hamstring didn't show any tears. But it doesn't sound as if Baldelli will be back in the lineup any time soon.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published June 22, 2007
[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
Jeff Niemann, the Rays' top 2004 pick, is 7-4 with 82 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings in Durham this season.
ST. PETERSBURG - The Devil Rays said they got good news Thursday when an MRI exam of CF Rocco Baldelli's reinjured left hamstring didn't show any tears. But it doesn't sound as if Baldelli will be back in the lineup any time soon.
The latest injury, which occurred Monday in the ninth inning of a rehab game at Triple-A Durham, is "very similar" to Baldelli's previous hamstring problems, team spokesman Rick Vaughn said.
The Rays did not estimate how much longer Baldelli, sidelined since mid May, will be out. But based on his history and the team's concerns, it could be at least another six to eight weeks.
"We are not going to put an artificial time frame on his return, " Vaughn said. "We are going to be cautious to try to alleviate future occurrences."
STARRY-EYED: The Rays project Double-A Montgomery 3B Evan Longoria and Triple-A Durham RHP Jeff Niemann to be future major-league All-Stars. They were selected Thursday to play for the U.S. team in the All-Star Futures Game on July 8 at San Francisco's AT&T Park.
Longoria, the Rays' top pick in 2006, is hitting .289 with 16 homers and 50 RBIs. "With the year that I'm having, I thought I had a decent shot" to be picked, he said.
Niemann, their top 2004 pick, is 7-4, 3.83 with 82 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings and apparently over previous injuries.
"I'm looking forward to going out there, " Niemann said from Durham. "There's been some things I'm working on, but trying to be consistent is the main thing right now."
OLD-TIMERS DAY: By bringing in Hall of Famer Duke Snider, Carl Erskine and Johnny Podres for Saturday's Turn Back the Clock salute to Don Zimmer and the 1955 Dodgers, the Rays are asking for stories. Lots of them.
On a conference call Wednesday, Erskine recalled when he and Zimmer were going to room together on a road trip. Zimmer told Erskine he was "a good boy, " wouldn't stay out late, didn't cause any trouble and would be up early the next morning to read the Bible.
"Six o'clock the next morning, (there's a) knock on the door, and it's the bellboy, " Erskine said. "Zimmer jumps out of bed and runs to the door and comes back with the paper - The Racing Form. He said, 'This is my bible.' "
The former Dodgers will sign autographs before the game, the first 15, 000 fans will get a Zimmer "Now and Then" double-bobblehead, the teams will wear old-style uniforms, and Sha Na Na will perform a concert after the game.
MISCELLANY: Rays officials continue to have conversations about trading or releasing troubled OF Elijah Dukes, but nothing appeared imminent as of Thursday night. ... RHP Doug Waechter, recovering from shoulder surgery he had in October, will begin a rehab assignment tonight by pitching the home opener for Class-A Hudson Valley. ... The Rays will say today whether they'll skip fifth starter RHP Edwin Jackson's turn Sunday. ... Wade Davis made an impressive Double-A debut Wednesday, striking out nine and walking none in 6 1/3 innings, averaging 94 mph with his fastball and hitting 97. ... Class-A Columbus OF Desmond Jennings was 2-for-4 in Wednesday's South Atlantic League All-Star Game, C Nevin Ashley was 1-for-2 and LF Ryan Royster 0-for-2.