ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Devil Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli will undergo right elbow ligament replacement surgery next week and will miss the rest of the season.
Baldelli experienced soreness in his throwing elbow while taking part in a rehab program for offseason left knee surgery. He recently started playing in extended spring training games and had been scheduled to join Double A Montgomery Tuesday.
''What a shame. Everything was going well with his knee," Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said before last night's game against Milwaukee. ''He was swinging the bat well at extended spring training."
Baldelli was examined by Dr. James Andrews yesterday in Birmingham, Ala. Piniella talked with Baldelli before he left Florida Tuesday night.
''His mood was good . . . surprising good," Piniella said. ''He'll be fine."
Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar said Baldelli's recovery time should be 8-9 months, which means he could be ready for spring training next season.
Baldelli had 26 outfield assists, the third highest total in the majors during the 2003-04 seasons. He has a .285 batting average with 27 homers, 152 RBIs, and 44 steals in 292 career games.