ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rocco Baldelli's playing days are over after just seven Major League seasons, as the 29-year-old announced he has retired and accepted the position of special assistant to baseball operations with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays selected Baldelli with the sixth overall pick in the 2000 draft. The five-tool prospect had a productive first two seasons with the Rays, hitting .285 to go with 27 home runs, 152 RBI and 44 stolen bases. He also led the American League in outfield assists (14) in 2003.
He missed all of 2005 with knee and elbow injuries but came back in 2006 and hit .302 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI in 92 games.
In 2008, Baldelli was diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder, a condition that slows muscle recovery and causes fatigue. The "Woonsocket Rocket" played in just 135 games over his final four seasons.
"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."
Baldelli ended his career with a .278 batting average, 60 homers, 262 RBI, 59 stolen bases and a .323 on-base percentage.
His new role with the Rays will include being involved in scouting and player development.