Baldelli playing in Florida, hopes to get back to Rays

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rocco Baldelli seemed upbeat after going hitless in five at-bats as the designated hitter in his second extended spring training game Saturday.

The results are secondary right now for the Tampa Bay Rays' center fielder. That he's playing at all is the important thing.

The 26-year-old Baldelli has been sidelined since May 2007, because of lingering hamstring problems and what doctors have told him and the Rays is mitochondrial disorder, a condition that causes extreme fatigue. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list during spring training.

"I'm happy with how things have gone," said Baldelli, who resumed playing as the DH on Thursday. "Trying to get some timing at the plate right now, and just the fact I can get out there and run around and swing. There's not much more I can ask for at this point."

Selected sixth overall in the 2000 amateur draft, Baldelli has a .282 batting average with 48 homers and 221 RBIs in 419 career games. His 26 assists during the 2003-04 seasons were the third most in the majors. However, various injuries have limited him to just 127 games since the start of the 2005 season.

Baldelli is expected to play with the extended spring team until its season ends in about 10 days. After that, he could be ready to join one of the Rays' minor league teams.

"I aspire to be out there at some point soon," Baldelli said. "I expect to be get some more [at-bats] before we decided what the next step is."