As Grant Balfour was introduced as the Tampa Bay Rays’ new closer on Thursday, he embraced a little personal redemption as he declared himself “100 percent healthy” and ready to pitch for one of the Orioles’ American League East rivals.
Last month, the Orioles were prepared to announce Balfour as their new ninth-inning man to replace traded closer Jim Johnson. But concerns raised over the 36-year-old free agent’s shoulder in his physical exam squashed a two-year, $15 million deal.
Balfour said publicly that he was healthy, and two team doctors, including Rays team physician Dr. Koco Eaton, said they had found nothing wrong with Balfour’s arm.
"I've had an eventful offseason to say the least," Balfour told reporters Thursday. "That was a bit of a stressful thing to see that go down knowing that I knew i was perfectly healthy."
With his new two-year, $12 million deal freshly inked in Tampa Bay, Balfour boasted that he had passed his physical with the Rays with no problems.
"I did take a physical, and I passed with flying colors, apparently,” Balfour told reporters. “What happened there in Baltimore is in the past. It was something that, to be honest with you, I had other offers on the table and other teams telling me that I didn't have to take a physical because they believed in my medicals and everything that they'd heard, that I didn't even have to go and take a physical with them.
“I'm totally healthy — 100 percent healthy — and you'll see that when I take the field April 1 here. I'm looking forward to it."
The Orioles will face the Rays 19 times this season. They open their spring training schedule Feb. 28 on the road against Tampa Bay.
Asked whether he will be more fired up to face the Orioles now, Balfour said: “I guess you'll have to tune in."