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GAME OF THE DAY

Baldelli is back in the swing of things

August 23, 2008|From the Associated Press

CHICAGO -- With one big swing, Rocco Baldelli gave a big indication that he is finally feeling better.

He hit his first home run in more than a year, Carlos Pena and Ben Zobrist also homered and the Tampa Bay Rays opened a weekend showdown against the Chicago White Sox with a 9-4 victory Friday night.

"I just want to get back into the swing of things where I feel comfortable and it's not a big deal when I go through a game and do something well," said Baldelli, sidelined most of the last two seasons because of a muscular disorder and hamstring injuries. "I just want to contribute to what's going on here. It's awesome."

The Rays continued to win even though Troy Percival, Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford are on the disabled list.

Sidelined for the first 116 games, Baldelli looked just fine against Octavio Dotel in the eighth. He drove an 0-and-1 pitch over the left-field wall for his first homer since May 3, 2007, against Minnesota.

"Taking some time off isn't always the easiest thing to do, but I feel like I'm able to do it OK and not lose my swing by taking days off," said Baldelli. "It did feel pretty good tonight."

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