Michelangelo, daVinci, Botticelli ... Baldelli? Devil Rays outfielder Rocco Baldelli (above)may not rank among the Italian masters, but he has made a lasting contributionto art, one that won't biodegrade for 2,000 years. While on the bench during along recovery from assorted injuries, Baldelli, 24, doodled on Styrofoam coffeecups, using a sunflower seed as his stylus. Soon, he was carving portraits ofteammates--each took about five innings to complete--and refining histechnique. "I'd need a sharp seed to do the outlines," he says,"then I'd use the dull end to do the shading."
Baldelli didthree portraits. Pitcher Mark Hendrickson was "shocked" by theresemblance; catcher Toby Hall admires Baldelli's rendering of facial hair("long, fuzzy little chin hair, eyebrows, everything"). But all agreeBaldelli's masterpiece is his Julio Lugo. "Impressive," says theshortstop. "The mustache he got right, and the nose, that's the difficultpart."
The subsequenttrading of all three of Baldelli's subjects has led some in Tampa Bay'sclubhouse to joke that his pieces have a dark side. That may be why he neverdid a self-portrait--"It'd be one ugly picture," he says--before hisreturn to the lineup interrupted his art career. Says Baldelli of his Styrofoamseries, "It's a real limited edition."
MICHAEL HEAPE (2, BALDELLI & CUPS);
JOEL AUERBACH/US PRESSWIRE (LUGO)
STEVE NESIUS/AP (HENDRICKSON)
DAVE CHENG/US PRESSWIRE (HALL)