ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Rocco Baldelli, whose once promising career has been beset with leg injuries, announced today he will start the season on the disabled list and also said he will not retire from baseball because of largely undiagnosed issues with his legs.
The Rhode Island native, who was slated to play right-field and DH for the Tampa Bay Rays, held a press conference here this morning trying to answer questions about the leg issues which again have kept him off the field.
Baldelli said after numerous visits to doctors this off-season, he has a "metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities" where his body isn't producing enough ATP (adenosine triphosphate, which is a source of chemical energy)."
Why this is occurring is the source of Baldelli's frustration as he's been unable to get an accurate diagnosis and a prescription for recovery. Basically, his legs do not recover from physical activity.
"I searched out doctors around the country," said Baldelli. "I was having a lot of problems the last couple of years with muscles and muscle strains. A good way to describe is muscle fatigue and cramping, way before my body should be feeling these things. I was incapable of doing basic baseball activities as far as running, hitting and throwing. These were things I had done my whole life very easily.
"At some point in the last two years and we're not exactly sure why things started to change. It was tough for me to deal with. The team sent me to specialists, flew me around all over the country trying to find out what was going on...my muscles don't work as they should. They don't recover as they should on a day-to-day basis. It becomes very difficult to go out and be on the field every day. My body is literally spent after a short time out there, which makes it extremely frustrating, but it's something that's kind of a reality."
Baldelli said that his legs often feel as if runner would after a long exhausting run where his legs feel a burn and also feel like jelly.
"I'm not here to stand in front of you and telling you I'm retiring. We're still going to pursue every avenue that we can, but at this time after all the testing we've done we don't have a concrete answer. The doctors consensus is these are the problems I'm experiencing. They have been unable to identify an exact reason or a problem specifically. So that's what we're dealing with," Baldelli said.