Rays’ Baldelli honored with 2008 Conigliaro Award

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli was named the winner of the 19th annual Tony Conigliaro Award on Tuesday.

The award is bestowed upon a Major League player who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination and courage that were trademarks of Conigliaro, whose promising career was tragically cut short when he was hit in the face by a pitch at Fenway Park in 1967.

The Red Sox started the award in 1990, the same year Conigliaro died following an eight-year struggle after a severe heart attack left him handicapped. Nominations are submitted by each major league team and an independent 12-person panel does the voting.

Baldelli suffers from a mitochondrial disorder that slows muscle recovery and produces fatigue. Tampa Bay placed him on the 60-day disabled list in March with the condition, after he already missed the final 124 games of the 2007 season with a hamstring injury.

The 27-year-old returned to action on August 10 and hit .263 with four home runs and 13 RBI in 28 games and was part of the Rays’ remarkable run to the World Series, where they eventually fell to Philadelphia.

Baldelli had a .200 average in the postseason but came up with some big at- bats in the League Championship Series win against the Red Sox, hitting .333 with a crucial three-run homer that helped seal a victory in Game 3 and an RBI single that plated the go-ahead run in Tampa Bay’s 3-1, series-clinching Game 7 victory.

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