Former Red Sox Rocco Baldelli returns to the field


Just as those who can’t do, teach, those who can’t play baseball because of mitochondrial myopathy coach first base.

The Tampa Bay Rays announced Friday that Rocco Baldelli will serve as their first base coach next season. The former Red Sox outfielder, who was drafted by the Rays at 21, was forced into retirement in 2011 at age 29 after a short, but promising, career marred by a laundry list of injuries from his muscle fatigue.

Baldelli is certainly making the most of his early exit from baseball. The 33 year-old spent the years since hanging up his cleats as the special assistant to baseball operations in the Tampa Bay front office. This move back to the field makes him the youngest first base coach in franchise history.

Though the Woonsocket, Rhode Island native spent six of his seven years in the majors with the Rays, his 2009 season with the Red Sox was special for the hometown hero. “My family and friends are as crazy as any other Red Sox fan out there,” he told the media after joining the team. “I know the loyalty that these people here have for this team and it’s really an honor for me to be a part of it.” The “Woonsocket Rocket” was the first Boston player to wear #5 since the departure of Red Sox Hall of Fame shortstop, Nomar Garciaparra.

Baldelli will serve on the Rays’ coaching staff under the team’s new 37 year-old manager Kevin Cash.

Fun fact: Baldelli and Cash both played in Tampa Bay and Boston during their careers, but never at the same time.