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06/02/2003  5:14 PM ET 
Baldelli captures second consecutive American League Pepsi Rookie of the Month honors

Tampa Bay Devil Rays center fielder Rocco Baldelli, who batted .314 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in May, has been named the American League Pepsi Rookie of the Month for the second straight month.

In 26 games, Baldelli posted 14 runs, three doubles, two triples, five stolen bases, a .438 slugging percentage, a .348 on-base percentage, and his 33 hits were the highest total among AL rookies. Baldelli collected 11 multi-hit games in May, including a season-best 4-for-5 effort with a solo homer in a 3-1 win at Anaheim on May 23. His 24 multi-hit games this season are tied with Bostons Nomar Garciaparra for second in the AL, eclipsed only by the 25 recorded by Alfonso Soriano of the New York Yankees.

Baldelli's .340 average through the end of May has been bested by only two Major League rookies in the last 20 years: Ichiro Suzuki (.358) and Albert Pujols (.353), both in 2001. Baldelli's six outfield assists are tied with Ichiro for second in the AL, trailing only the seven by Juan Gonzalez of Texas.

The 21-year-old Rhode Island native currently ranks fourth in the AL with a .336 batting average and his .431 average against left-handers is second in the league. Baldelli joins Ichiro in 2001 and Toronto's Josh Phelps in 2002 as the only back-to-back winners of Pepsi Rookie of the Month honors.

Other outstanding rookies who received consideration were Mark Teixeira (.282, 3 HR, ML rookie-best 18 RBI) of the Rangers; Baldelli's teammate, Lance Carter (1-0, 2.45, 6 saves); Cleveland's Billy Traber (2-0, 3.68, 14.2 IP, 18 SO); and Torontos Mark Hendrickson (3-0, 4.46).

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

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