Tampa Bay outfielder's elbow continues to heal

Updated: January 18, 2006, 7:56 PM ET
Associated Press

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Devil Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli might recover from elbow surgery in time for opening day.

Right Field
Tampa Bay Devil Rays

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The 24-year-old tore a knee ligament playing with his younger brother in the backyard of their Rhode Island home in October 2004. He was on the verge of rejoining the Devil Rays last June when he tore a ligament in his right elbow and had to undergo ligament-replacement surgery.

"Rocco is on a pretty good pace right now," Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said Wednesday. "We don't know exactly if he's going to be ready for opening day, but if he's not, it's going to be close to that."

Baldelli had 26 outfield assists from 2003-04, the third-highest total in the major leagues. He has a .285 batting average with 27 homers, 152 RBIs and 44 steals in 292 games.

Maddon said right-hander Edwin Jackson, one of two prospects obtained from the Los Angeles Dodgers for All-Star closer Danys Baez and reliever Lance Carter, could wind up in the starting rotation.

"He might be one of the guys that's coming in that may surprise as we get deeper into this thing," Maddon said.

Baez went 5-4 with a 2.86 ERA and a career-best 41 saves last season.

"I don't think it's ever overrated to have an established closer, but there are other ways to get it done too," Maddon said. "With the situation that we're looking at now, there are some people there that may become that. This may give that other person the opportunity to become that. He may be here already."

In other news, Tampa Bay agreed to a one-year contract with right-handed pitcher Shawn Camp and to a minor league contract with infielder Luis Rivas. The 30-year-old Camp was 1-4 with a 6.43 ERA last season for Kansas City. Rivas batted .257 with one homer, 12 RBIs and four steals last year with Minnesota.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press