Rocco Baldelli: 'Not ready to retire'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Former Boston Red Sox outfielder Rocco Baldelli said Tuesday morning that he has rejoined the Tampa Bay Rays, not as a player but as a special assistant.

Baldelli has always kept in touch with Rays vice president Andrew Friedman and during one of their conversations, Friedman told Baldelli if he was ever interested in becoming part of the Tampa Bay organization again in an off-field role, he was more than welcome.

"It worked out for both sides, and the timing was right," said Baldelli.

The 28-year-old Rhode Island native is not ruling out the possibility of a return to the field.

"As far as coming back and playing, I think a lot of that has to do with my shoulder, which I hurt last year. I didn't want to go to spring training with anyone because I'm not able to throw, and definitely not throw the way I would like to. Just throwing in general is not going well at this moment, but hopefully someday I can figure it out whether to rehab it, or eventually have to get the surgery."

Baldelli said he hurt his right shoulder during a game in the middle of last season when he wrenched it making a throw to third base from the outfield.

"I'm not going to rule out coming back and playing again," he said. "I'm not officially retired, and I'm not retiring in any way. I just think this is a good way for me to stay in the game. Tampa has been very, very good to me for a long time. It's a good opportunity for me to stay in the game and continue to maybe pursue playing, but I don't know when that will be. "

Baldelli's role as a special assistant will be to work with the outfielders and baserunners throughout the Tampa organization.

"I'll do anything they ask me to do," he said.

"Obviously we're thrilled to add Rocco and his experience and what he can bring to our young players," Friedman said, according to the St. Petersburg Times. "We think he'll be a tremendous asset for us. And he looks better in blue."

The Rhode Island native was originally drafted by the Rays as their first-round pick (sixth overall) in the 2000 draft. The 28-year-old spent had spent his entire career with the Rays before he signed with the Red Sox prior to the 2009 season. Baldelli played 62 games for the Sox last summer and posted a .253 average with seven homers and 23 RBIs.

He was diagnosed with the cell disorder channelopathy prior to the 2008 season, a condition that has prevented him from being an everyday player in the majors.

This offseason there were three or four teams interested in his services, but he didn't sign with anyone.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.