Ex-Ray Rocco Baldelli, a Rhode Island native signs with the Bosox. The timing was perfect. With Rocco Baldelli already set to receive the Tony Conigliaro Award at last night's Boston Baseball Writers dinner, it seemed convenient that he pick up a contract as well.
So it was that Baldelli found himself holding up jersey No. 5 - Nomar Garciaparra's old number - during a press conference at the Westin Waterfront Hotel yesterday afternoon, being introduced as the newest member of the Red Sox. Then he found himself being introduced at the head table, and getting a standing ovation from a packed house.
Not bad for a New England native (Cumberland, R.I.), though not exactly the biggest Sox fan growing up.
"It seems like almost every offseason we are looking for a young, really talented righthanded-hitting outfielder to complement the core of outfielders that we have," general manager Theo Epstein said. "Rocco obviously is talented enough to start for any club, but due to circumstances the last couple of years and the evolution of his career, it seemed like the right time and the right fit where he could help us out as an extra outfielder, but be a pretty dynamic one." Rocco is recovering from a strange muscle disease that I can't spell and can barely pronounce. Many thought he would never play again. He came back at the end of last season and did some good things. But the Rays signed right-handed hitter Pat Burrell as their DH, so that left Rocco as the odd man out.
The Bosox got a good guy who will put a few over the Green Monster. Rays fans love Rocco, and he will be the only Red Sox player to get applause at the Trop.
I have mixed feelings about his departure. I want him to do well, but playing for Boston I don't want him to do that well, if you know what I mean.