Around the Diamond – January 6, 2014

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All is quiet on the free agency front, as the baseball world waits to see what happens with Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. With that being the case, there has been a real slow trickle of MLB news since the beginning of the holiday season. I spent the weekend catching up on a few stories, and I thought to myself “Hey, why not help my blog readers catch up too?”. You’ve heard the podcast segment, but you haven’t seen this format in blog form for some time now. It’s time to go Around the Diamond!

Bill Chastain over at MLB.com had a really good feature piece about what former Tampa Bay standout Rocco Baldelli is up to now. If you’ll recall, Baldelli was the Rays’ sixth overall pick of the 2000 draft. He made his rookie debut in March 2003 at the age of 21, and showed unbelievable promise hitting .289 with 11 home runs and 78 RBIs in 156 games that season. But as fortune would have it, baseball simply wasn’t in the cards for Baldelli. After 2004, he suffered through a series of injuries before being diagnosed with a muscle disorder that often left him fatigued and made him more susceptible to other injuries. It forced him to retire. Though his playing career was cut short, Baldelli has landed on his feet and now works as a special assistant of baseball operations within the Rays organization. It’s a cool, uplifting epilogue to what had been a sad story.

Speaking of comeback stories, remember Mark Mulder? He used to be a standout starting pitcher in Oakland, part of an incredible rotation featuring Barry Zito and Tim Hudson. Mulder hasn’t thrown in the big leagues since 2008, but he’s signed a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to begin a comeback attempt. The guys and gals at Big League Stew, a Yahoo! Sports baseball blog, accurately dub it the most intriguing comeback of the baseball season, and think it’s a good, if not perfect, fit with the Angels. The 36-year-old left hander originally (and reluctantly) retired in 2010 due to injuries and has since worked as a baseball analyst for ESPN.

Aubrey Huff officially retired on Friday, and now will pursue a career in broadcasting. He told MLB Daily Dish that he has a job lined up calling some college baseball for the Pac-12 Networks, where he will get his start. Huff is a two-time World Series champion with the San Francisco Giants. We will add a tribute to him to the Retire in Peace page with the next set of updates.

A bit of sad news broke on Saturday evening, as we learned that iconic Padres broadcaster Jerry Coleman passed away at the age of 89. Coleman called games on the radio for the Padres from 1972 through last season, except for 1980 when he managed the team. Both the Padres and Commissioner Selig have released statements honoring Coleman. You can read them by following this link to MLB.com.

About Matthew George

Matthew George graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2008 with a bachelor of science in journalism. He spent three years writing sports for the Kentucky Kernel, the university's daily paper, and served as assistant sports editor. After undergrad, Matthew attended Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University where he earned his juris doctorate. He is now admitted to practice law in Kentucky and Indiana.

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