01/08/2009 12:22 PM ET
Red Sox sign free agent outfielder Rocco Baldelli to one-year contract
BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox today agreed to terms with outfielder Rocco Baldelli on a one-year contract through the 2009 season. No further terms were disclosed.
To make room for Baldelli on the 40-man roster, righthanded pitcher Charlie Zink was designated for assignment.
The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.
Baldelli, 27, batted .263 with four home runs and 13 RBI in 28 games for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008. The righthanded batter spent a majority of the year on the disabled list with a mitochondrial disorder. He was placed on the Rays 60-day disabled list on March 28 and reinstated to the roster on August 10 following two rehab assignments. He made 16 starts for the Rays in 2008, 13 at designated hitter and three at rightfield.
In five seasons of major league action, Baldelli has compiled a .281 average, 94 doubles, 52 homers and 234 RBI in 447 games, all with Tampa Bay. He was 4-for-20 with two home runs and six RBI in his post-season debut this past fall.
Baldelli appeared in 156 games during the 2003 season and 136 games during the 2004 season, but has since appeared in just 155 games over the last four years due to injury. After missing the entire 2005 season with knee and elbow injuries, the Rhode Island native rejoined the Rays on June 7, 2006 and led the club in runs scored (59), doubles (24), RBI (57) and home runs (16) over the final 103 games of the 2006 season. In 2007, he appeared in 35 games before suffering a season-ending hamstring injury on May 15.
In 2003, he finished third in American League Rookie of the Year voting after leading major league rookies with 184 hits and ranking tops among A.L. rookies in batting average (.289), stolen bases (27), triples (8) and multi-hit games (53). He also led all American Leaguers with 14 outfield assists.
Baldelli was the sixth overall selection by Tampa Bay in the 2000 First Year Player Draft. During a standout amateur career, he led Rhode Island's Bishop Hendrickson High School to four consecutive baseball titles.
For perseverance despite his mitochondrial disorder, Baldelli was voted the winner of this year's Tony Conigliaro Award, presented to a major league player who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of Tony C. The award will be presented tonight at the Boston Baseball Writers' Association of America's annual dinner.