Sunday Rewind: “Rocco Baldelli Press Conference 2008”


Blogger’s Note:

When I first stood there in that open hallway underneath the old Progress Energy Field, I had no idea what this quickly generated Press Conference was going to bring  to us. What ended up happening was seeing one of my Rays idols at his worst moment in life,not just baseball. But on this day (March 13,2008), you could see in Baldelli’s eyes that he believed he had possibily played his last game EVER as a baseball player.


This is another weekly Sunday Rewind back into my blog’s past to re-post some of the moments and events that shaped my memories and the Rays seasons. Every Sunday I will pick my personal favorites and bring them back for other to also either see for the first time, or revisit again. The writing style was different before the 2009 season.

Originally posted on March 13,2008.

Trivia Question:

When was the first match up between a deaf pitcher and a hitter in baseball, and who were the participants?
Answer at the bottom of the Blog.

Rocco Baldelli was once called “Joe’s twin,” by MLB Professional Scout Al LaMacchia. This of course, was referring to the great ex-Yankee Joe DiMaggio. Rocco had been compared to the Yankee legend ever since his prep days at Bishop Hendricken H.S. in Warwick, Rhode Island.

Baldelli began his 2007 Spring Training season on the Disabled List after pulling his hamstring. But the injury was healing slowly and while on a Minor League rehab assignment, Baldelli’s injury became worse. Baldelli spent the rest of the year with the Rays inactive,but  was a very important part of the team. He could be seen on the bench either taking down the pitching stats,or purposely watching the opposing pitcher for signs of him tipping off his pitches or pitch outs to first base.

Rays Manager Joe Maddon felt that Baldelli had an special energy and an always positive attitude that was beneficial to his young squad and took him on away games for the rest of the season. During this time, Rays Head Trainer Ron Porterfield and the medical staff did multiple tests on Baldelli to try and pinpoint the situation and maybe finally get some positive results to reoccurring injuries.

During Spring Training in 2008, Baldelli was an early arrival to camp in St. Petersburg. He was out on the complex fields every day trying to get his body to function correctly so he could get back on the field with his comrades. He was used sparingly this
Spring until on March12, 2008, Rocco released the following statement to the press:
This off season, because of the physical problems I’ve been having, I started along with the team’s help to search them out and go see some doctors and try to find out what’s going on.

I was having a lot of problems the last couple years with my muscles and muscle strains. I think a good way to describe it is literally muscle fatigue and cramping, way before my body should be feeling these things. I would go out there and I was pretty much incapable of doing basic baseball activities as far as running and hitting and throwing.

These were things that I had done my whole life pretty easily and at some point in the last two years – we’re not exactly sure why – these things started to change. It was tough for me to deal with, but with the team’s help, they sent me to specialists, basically flying me around all over the country to try to figure out what was going on.

What the doctors eventually found through all of this was I have some type of metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities. Basically, somewhere along the line in my body – I don’t want to get too deep into the medicine because it’s not really my expertise, but either my body isn’t making or producing or storing ATP the right way and therefore not allowing, apparently, my muscles to work as they should and, especially, recover on a day-to-day basis. So it becomes very difficult to get on the field every day and play.

When I say fatigue, I go out there and my body is literally spent after a very short amount of time out on the field, which makes it extremely frustrating and difficult, but it’s something that’s kind of a reality right now and something we’re dealing with the best that we can.

As far as my baseball career, I’m not here to stand in front of you telling you I’m retiring. We’re still going to pursue every avenue that we can to try to figure out what is going on, have a better understanding of what is going on. But at this time, throughout all of the extensive testing that we’ve done, we don’t have a concrete answer.

The doctors’ consensus is that these are the problems that I’m experiencing and there’s a lot of medical proof of these things, but they’ve been unable to specifically identify an exact reason or an exact problem down to a specific name. That’s kind of frustrating, but that’s why we’re going to continue along with the team’s help to find out what’s going on.

I feel comfortable about this because the team has been so good to me and supported me in every possible way I could imagine. Without that, I don’t know really where I’d be right now, because this is as probably as difficult and frustrating a thing as I’ve ever had to deal with as a person. Like I said, we’re going to do everything we can to fix and hopefully solve this problem, and that’s pretty much where I’m at right now.

Rocco Baldelli announced that he has a mitochondrial metabolic abnormality during a press conference on Wednesday.

I put his  Baldelli’s entire statement to the media here to reflect and hope that a possible solution or cure can be found for this promising player. I have personally chatted with Rocco on occasion, and I can tell you there is no better guy in the clubhouse than him. He knows what was expected of him on Day 1, and he will do whatever is needed to make it back onto the diamond.

The Rays’ are in a bit of a pickle here tho. They were looking for Baldelli to be  the possible Centerfield back-up this season to give B J Upton some needed rest during the season. Maybe the Rays will look at their Minor leaguer’s,or sign a veteran like Kenny Lofton to relieve B J, and Jonny Gomes through the year.

Here is a guy who could have rewritten a few passages in the Rays record books, and now might be done with his playing career because of a metabolic nightmare churning within his body. I hope the Rays Doctors’ can find a solution soon, and we can report a positive prognosis soon so we can get this great talent back on the field.

I will miss not seeing Baldelli out there on the Rays Opening Day in Baltimore on March 31,2008 ,but his health is more important than the game right now.

The following is a short synapsis of the ailment that has effected the metabolism of Baldelli. This is a non-scientific guy writing about a medical condition, and I hope I can make it so everyone can understand it with some clarity and severity to the possible effects this will have on Baldelli’s body.

For your muscles, in fact, for every cell in your body — the source of energy that keeps everything going is called ATP. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the biochemical way to store and use energy.

The entire reaction that turns ATP into energy is a bit complicated, but here is a good summary:
    Chemically, ATP is an adenine nucleotide bound to three phosphates.

    There is a lot of energy stored in the bond between the second and third phosphate groups that can be used to fuel chemical reactions.

    When a cell needs energy, it breaks this bond to form adenosine diphosphate (ADP) and a free phosphate molecule.

    In some instances, the second phosphate group can also be broken to form adenosine monophosphate (AMP).

    When the cell has excess energy, it stores this energy by forming ATP from ADP and phosphate.

ATP is required for the biochemical reactions involved in any muscle contraction. As the work of the muscle increases, more and more ATP gets consumed and must be replaced in order for the muscle to keep moving.

Because ATP is so important, the body has several different systems to create ATP. These systems work together in phases. The interesting thing is that different forms of exercise use different systems, so a sprinter is getting ATP in a completely different way from a marathon runner

Trivia Question Answer:
It happened on may 16, 1902, featuring William Ellsworth “Dummy” Hoy of the Washington Nationals in the batters box, against New York Giant pitcher Luther “Dummy” Taylor.   the opponents greeted each other in sign language, then hoy knocked out a single against Taylor.

The wording in quotes above is the listing in the Baseball reference material I used for the Trivia question. I, in no manner, used the phrasing, “dummy” as a cruel reference or in a demeaning nature here concerning these fine ballplayers. 

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