Baldelli to start against lefties
Striving to prevent fatigue, hitter will play DH or outfield
CHICAGO -- Rocco Baldelli was penciled in as the Rays' cleanup hitter and DH Friday night with left-hander John Danks starting for the White Sox.
Since being activated off the disabled list on Aug. 10, Baldelli, 26, has played in five games and was hitting .250 in 16 at-bats at the start of Friday's play. Right now, the plan for Baldelli's use is in a platoon situation, where he starts when the Rays are facing a southpaw.
"I think the kind of routine I'm going to have is actually in place," Baldelli said. "I mean, I don't think it's going to vary too much from this."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said that one of his big concerns with Baldelli's use is that he hasn't played enough.
"We'll use him as a DH here," Maddon said. "The weather is going to be a little warm here tonight and little warm Sunday. ... I'm not opposed to using him in the outfield. I think he's played some pretty good defense for us, too.
"We're not confused regarding how we'll use him. It's been primarily against the lefties, but I'd like to get him more at-bats, because I know he could also hit against the righties if that were to come up. Historically, he might have been better against the righties than the lefties. But for now, we're going to stay with the platoon situation. Get him out there against the lefty."
So Baldelli can expect to start Sunday, with left-hander Mark Buehrle starting for the Sox. Of course, everything is contingent on how Baldelli feels. Baldelli was placed on the 60-day disabled list on March 28 with a mitochondrial disorder, a condition that slows muscle recovery and causes fatigue, costing him the first 116 games of the season. Striving to prevent having Baldelli reach the point of fatigue, Maddon talks constantly with Baldelli during the game.
"It's not like I keep secrets from him or he keeps secrets from me about what's going on," Baldelli said. "We talk all the time about everything. Like I talk to Andrew [Friedman, Rays executive vice president of baseball operations]. We talk to the trainers. You know, it's a collaborative thing. When I feel good, I'll be out there."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.