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05/02/2003  5:19 PM ET 
Rocco Baldelli named AL Rookie of the Month

Tampa Bay Devil Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli, who set a rookie record with 40 hits through April, has been named the American League Pepsi Rookie of the Month.

Baldelli, 21, batted .364 with 13 runs, nine doubles, two triples, one home run, 20 RBIs and two stolen bases in 27 games, leading all AL rookies in 12 offensive categories and all Major League rookies in nine. The Cumberland, Rhode Island native posted 13 multi-hit games, trailing only AL Pepsi Player of the Month Alfonso Soriano's 16 among AL players, and collected an AL rookie-best three outfield assists. Baldelli began his Major League career by opening up the 2003 season with a 13-game hitting streak, and compiled another 10-game hitting streak in April.

The sixth overall pick in the 2000 June draft hit safely in 24 of the 26 games in which he batted and, with his 40 hits through April, eclipsed the record set by Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki in April 2001. His .364 average is the highest by an AL rookie through April since Kansas City's Kevin Seitzer hit .382 in 1987. Baldelli's .500 average with runners in scoring position led all AL players, and he collected the game-winning RBI in three games in which the Devil Rays came from behind by three or more runs. Baldelli capped his outstanding month with two hits, including his first career home run, and five RBI in an 8-5 loss at Minnesota on April 30.

Other outstanding rookies who received consideration were Cleveland's Ricardo Rodriguez (2-2, 3.32); Kansas City's Angel Berroa (12 R, .280, 2 HR, 9 RBI), D.J. Carrasco (1-1, 3.65), Ken Harvey (3 HR, 13 RBI), and Mike MacDougal (1-2, 3.55, 10 saves); Hideki Matsui (2 HR, ML rookie-high 22 RBI) of the New York Yankees; Devil Rays reliever Lance Carter (3-1, 3.45, 5 saves); and Texas pitchers R.A. Dickey (2-1, 3.09) and Colby Lewis (3-1, 4.45).

Baldelli will receive a specially designed trophy as the American League Pepsi Rookie of the Month.





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