Rocco retires

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While his career was cut short by injury and a mysterious mitochondrial disorder, he was always a favorite to the Rays faithful, myself especially. I can even forgive him for playing for the Bahstahn Rehd Sawks; the guy loved the game and just wanted to play some ball. He signed a minor league contract with the Rays in July 2010 and I was psyched at the idea of his triumphant return. While his impact on the season may not have been substantial, you can rest assured his presence in the clubhouse was tremendous.

It is encouraging to hear he will be involved in player development. Although I know nothing of his abilities as a scout, his passion for baseball is something I’d love to see instilled in every player to step into the Rays dugout. While he will be missed in a Rays uniform and never again be stepping up to the plate, I’m glad to hear he’s staying close to home.

Amid the collective clapping and cringing of the recent Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon acquisitions, another change in the Tampa Bay Rays organization may occur with less spectacle but is certainly worthy of fans’ attention. Today, in a press release, the team announced that beloved Rocco Baldelli has filed his retirement papers with Major League Baseball and will accept a position with the Rays front office. He will serve as special assistant to baseball operations to work in scouting and player development.

From the release:

"From the day he signed here in 2000, Rocco has earned the respect and admiration of both his peers and our fans," said Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman. "Though his playing career has ended, he will continue to make a tremendous impact on the Rays organization. His feel and passion for the game are outstanding, and we're thrilled to have him in this role."

What this means to fans: heartbreak. Pure and simple.

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