Baldelli awaits medical answers

By EDUARDO A. ENCINA, Times Staff Writer
Published November 9, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Rocco Baldelli is still waiting for the last test results trying to determine the cause of his dubious injury history. All previous tests have come back negative.

It has left Baldelli, who said he has been subjected to "every test known to man involving muscles," with few answers coming off a season in which he played just 35 games because of hamstring problems, a fact that is both relieving and unsettling for the 26-year-old centerfielder.

"It's good and bad," he said. "It's good that I don't have anything specific that doctors can categorize as being the problem. And then also we don't know exactly what's causing the problem. But I really think we'll find everything out before spring training."

Baldelli - in town Thursday for the first time since the end of the season to participate in the new logo unveiling - is focused on being in the opening day lineup next year. He resumed working out on his own last week in his native Rhode Island. Unlike last year, when he spent the entire offseason in St. Petersburg working out, Baldelli plans to take more time off to allow his body to rest.

Baldelli, whose name is ritually thrown around in trade rumors this time of the year - the Twins and Nationals appear to be the most interested this offseason - said his focus is on getting back on the field. He said that includes changing the style or the intensity of his running or becoming the team's everyday DH after the outfield of Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Delmon Young became entrenched last season.

"Right now, I just want to play," Baldelli said. "Whatever I have to do to play, I'll do it. I just want to help this team out because I know this team is going in a great direction right now and I want to be a part of it.

"At this point, I'm going to do whatever I have to do to stay on the field."

BOGGS BACK? The only Hall of Famer to wear a Rays uniform modeled the new version and said he was open to making more appearances for the team.

Wade Boggs finished his spectacular career with the Rays in 1998-99, worked in the front office in 2000 and was the hitting coach in 2001, but the Tampa resident hasn't been involved much since.

"I'm willing to listen if they want to talk," said Boggs, 49. "I played for the Rays and there's a part of me that's still here and I'm not going to alienate this organization by any means."

TODAY'S SCHEDULE: Continuing their logo and uniform unveiling, the Rays have scheduled a picnic for 11:45 a.m. at Gaslight Park in downtown Tampa, including free hot dogs, snacks, drinks and autographs from manager Joe Maddon and players. New merchandise will be available at the Tampa team store, 400 N Tampa St. There will be player appearances from 6-7:30 p.m. at various area Champs Sports, and new merchandise will be available. See blogs.tampabay.com/rays for more details.