Rocco Baldelli’s Diagnosis……………………Was Wrong!!




In a wild turn of events, it has been learned that former Rays D H  and right-fielder Rocco Baldelli visited a Cleveland Clinic last week and found out that his former physicians may have misread his results concerning his illness. As we all know, Rocco missed most of last season for the Rays after basically calling it quits during an emotional news conference in March 2008.

( If you go to my Archives for March 13, 2008, there is a blog about the disease and his entire news conference notes.)



Baldelli did  finally return to play for the Tampa Bay Rays later in the 2008 season and was inserted for the first time on August 11,2008  into the lineup against the Seattle Mariners’ at Safeco Field.  It was the first time that Baldelli had been in the lineup for the Rays since May, 7 2007. While on the DL since 2007, Baldelli has had a series of injuries from a knee operation, to a Tommy John’s surgery to repair as throwing arm injury, to his current nemesis, mitochondrial fatigue syndrome. The disease can be fatal if not monitored correctly. Baldelli was constantly being monitored by the Rays Head Trainer, Ron Porterfield while with the team on that long road trip.


A Baldelli family source confirmed that a recent visit to a reknowned  Cleveland Clinic  brought back amazing results that Baldelli was suffering from  channelopathy, a non-progressive, highly treatable disease. Even though Channelopathy is a disease involving  the interruption of the working of the body’s ion channels, it can be monitored and regulated with medication and strict protocol  with certain limitations. Channel-opathies are known to involve the ion channels , which regulate the body’s needs for potassium, sodium and chloride and calcium. 




Ion channels are critical to the living membranes surrounding every cell. This might be awesome news to all of the teams looking at Baldelli to supplement their outfield situations for 2009. With a renewed aspect of a healthier and more productive Baldelli, team will be bale to depernd on the slugger more than as a part-time position player. This might also give the Rays a  solid chance to offer a  roster position to Baldelli  as the daily  right-handed bat and possible everyday right-fielder for the upcoming season.

It is also learned from family sources that Baldelli has not been contacted recently by the Boston Red Sox.  It wasa thought he might be deep into negotiations with the teams as their fourth outfielder in 2009. At one point, it was considered that the Red Sox ,the Cincinnati Reds and The Philadelphia Phillies were heavily pursuing Baldelli for their teams. It is  an afterthought that Baldelli would give the Tampa Bay Rays a chance to match or beat any contract offered to him by another team. The Rays stood by Baldelli during the past 2 seasons while he was rehabbing his multiple injuries and helped set up treatment appointsment with leading docotrs and clinics who  prodded and poked Baldelli before diagnosising him in 2008 with the fatigue syndrome.

The sequencing of the human genome has provided a new view of this  disease. Rather than a mysterious force that somehow swamps our physiology, many diseases are now seen as simple mistakes in our genetic code that, once found can be fixed by variations of medical and physical treatments.
This has promoted researchers to take a second look at some long-studied biological entities, including the growing field concerning channelopathy. This is a term used to describe the set of diseases caused by defective ion channel proteins. Ion channels are proteins that are embedded in the  bodies cell membranes and contain pore-like openings to input and output chemicals. The channels regulate the way   the ions, such as potassium and sodium, cross the cell membrane through their pores. Ion channels have been under scrutiny for decades because of they are essential structure of the nervous system in our body.
It is the ion channel that generates the electrical signals that neurons use to communicate with one another. Channels are essential components of every physiological system, from heart and skeletal muscle, to the digestive tract, workings of the brain and spinal cord. Even skin cells use ion channels to regulate the amount of fluid they contain. It is therefore not surprising that many diseases turn out to have their origins in a defective ion channel protein. So to say that channleopathy might be a basic element of most diseases would not  be an inaccurate conclusion.
One of the first diseases discovered to be associated with a disorder of an ion channel was cystic fibrosis, the leading cause of chronic lung disease in children and young adults. It targets the lungs and exocrine glands by causing severe inflammation that progressively destroys the tissues. Cystic Fibrosis is caused by a mutation in the chloride channel.
When this channel does not work properly, the balance of ions and water in the cells is disrupted, leading to salt accumulation in some organs. The most promising advances in treatment options for CF begin to focus when it was discovered that it was a channelopathy.
Researchers are attempting to use gene therapy techniques to insert a normal version of the gene into patients to compensate for the failing one. Although there are a lot of hurdles to overcome before a cure is found, Phyllis Gardner, of the Stanford University School of Medicine says : “We have to work out the strategies to make this work. I believe that ultimately we will.”
Channelopathy has turned the light on multiple sclerosis as well. Recent research has established injury in peripheral nerves sending signals to neurons in the spinal cord that causes them to turn off the genes for one kind of sodium channel, and turn on the gene for another kind of sodium channel. The new sodium channel causes the cell in the spinal cord to become hyper-excitable, meaning they are willing to respond more to more low-level stimuli than would normally catch their attention. Such excessive excitability is thought to contribute to the symptoms of multiple sclerosis, such as difficulty walking, pain, fatigue and the feeling of “pins and needles” along the limbs.
In this case, researchers hope to design drugs that target the sodium  channel proteins that cause the over-excitability in the neurons. There already are a number of chemical compounds known to interact with these channels and the trick will be to develop therapies ” tailored to counter specific membrane ion channel defects,” says E F Bond, professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, in one of the many articles reviewing the explosion of channelopathies that have recently been discovered.
Among other  channelopathies are epilepsy, migrane, ataxia, and a cardiac illness referred to as long QT syndrome, which has to do with the heart beat. One advantage channelopathies have over other diseases is that the ion channel have been studied for many years. A great deal is known about the way ion channels work, about their structure and their functional properties. With such a solid foundation of knowledge, the development of drugs and gene therapies has been crossed and the academic community already has accomplished characterizing its function, to a large extent.

So with the announcement of this aliment diagnosis, what is the foreseeable future for Baldelli in the major leagues. Will the treatment take him again away from the game for an extended timer, or is it a treatment that will be on-going while he still battles on the diamond in 2009.  The prognosis is good that he will be able to attain a level of physical strength to enable him to keep the drive alive to play professional baseball.
 Let’s hope that this guy can get the final answer he needs and get along with his great career. Even if he is not with the Rays in 2009, the diagnosis tonight shows a bright future and a better outlook on his career starting today.  And we are better in baseball to able to watch this guy hit and run the bases. Where ever he plays in 2009.


A man who fears suffering is already suffering from what he fears. Do you think so?

That is an interesting quote.
Sometimes thementalapsect of a medical or even injury situation can have more lasting and dramatic effects than the initial diagnosis.
If someone told you a piece of you dies every nday, you might get a bit morbid and depressed until you realize that skin cells, hair and even red blood cells cease their usage within you every day…And we are still alive.
I am glad Baldelli foiund out his situation might not be as bleak, but the reality is that medication seems to be the only answer to fighting the fatique syndrome.

Rays Renegade

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