Baldelli's return is short-lived
Outfielder injures knee sliding into outfield wall
TORONTO -- He was in, and then he was back out. Such is life for Rocco Baldelli, as injuries seem to find him at inconvenient times.
Saturday marked Baldelli's return to the lineup after resting for four days with soreness in his left hamstring. And in his first at-bat back, he clubbed a two-run homer to left.
But three innings later, Baldelli hustled for a foul ball down the right-field line and crashed into the wall. He left with a contusion of his left knee. Fortunately for Baldelli, X-rays came back negative.
Manager Terry Francona said that the right-handed-hitting Baldelli will take Sunday off. The Red Sox hope to have him back when they open a three-game series at Detroit on Tuesday night.
"I didn't wake up this morning thinking this was going to happen, but it did," Baldelli said. "I'm pretty confident it's not going to be something that's going to bother me too much. My legs have been feeling good the last couple of days, and I was ready to get back out there. I'll take advantage of probably that day off we have coming up [on Monday] and ice it and get back out there."
Because the Red Sox have two left-handed-hitting starting outfielders in Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew, Francona likes to have Baldelli at his disposal against southpaws. The next likely start for Baldelli is Thursday afternoon against the Tigers, when the opponent is lefty Dontrelle Willis.
As for the hamstring injury that had sidelined Baldelli before Saturday, that was likely a result of his excessive muscle fatigue ailment, which was diagnosed over the winter as channelopathy.
"I think the muscle spasms -- I think they're related," Francona said. "I think it's probably hard for him to tell at times what's a pull and what's a strain. He's been through that the last couple of years. I think that's always going to be an issue."
Despite the unpredictability of the situation, both Baldelli and the Red Sox seemed to be at peace with it.
"I've battled some things so far early this year," said Baldelli. "I wish I didn't really have to deal with that, but I'm not going to complain. I don't really complain about anything. I try not to. Things could always be worse in life, so I don't really look to get all bent out of shape anymore. Would I have liked them maybe to have gone a little smoother? Yes. It is what it is."
Francona appreciates the way Baldelli has handled the situation.
"He's terrific," Francona said. "He walks in, tells you how he feels. I think it's kind of how we thought. We expected we'd have to keep up to date on it and bought into it, and it's been pretty much like we thought. It's a little easier just because of the way he handles it. He's a great kid -- tells you how he feels and tells you honestly how he feels."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.