Thursday, February 12, 2009

Red Sox Cautious - Cautiously Optimistic - with Baldelli

Outfielder Rocco Baldelli was once a young pup who played hard on the field, full-speed all the time. Now he's a bit older, a bit wiser, and diagnosed with a mitochondrial disorder that can sap his strength and energy when he's not careful enough in managing his outputs.

The Red Sox signed him to a free-agent deal knowing they'll have to carefully manage his time and practice habits in order to keep him ready when needed. And that's something manager Terry Francona says the team can do.

Francona told The Providence Journal that the Red Sox will be careful with Baldelli during spring training that the team will "back him off enough" to keep Baldelli fresh.

The ProJo's Joe McDonald further quotes Francona:

"We got him at a time when he's not a 22-year-old kid who thinks he has to be the first one in the rundowns, and (thus tires himself out so that) when the games start he can't do what he can do," said Francona. "We're going to be very supportive of him and hopefully make it easier for him to help us win games."

Francona called it a partnership and the club has done its homework to understand Baldelli's situation.

"Just like a new player coming into camp, we're going to have to help him fight the urge to want to do everything," said Francona.

Baldelli is expected to back up at the corner outfield positions and provide a bat off the bench.