Grant Balfour comes to Baltimore for first time since deal with Orioles fell through

The Baltimore Sun

The last time Grant Balfour was in Baltimore, he thought he had landed in the place where he'd spend the next two years of his career.

In December, Balfour arrived at the Warehouse to take a club physical that he believed would be the last step in finalizing a two-year, $15 million deal to replace Jim Johnson as Orioles closer.

But instead of being introduced as the Orioles' new closer as he had expected, Balfour left town frustrated after being told that team doctors found something in the physical that they did not like.

The deal with the Orioles fell through, and Balfour, 36, eventually signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays later in the offseason.

Monday was his first time back in the city since his physical.

“When I walked out of here last time, I [knew I] was not going to be an Oriole,” Balfour said before the Orioles’ series opener Monday against Tampa Bay. “There was no meeting. It was basically my agent telling me they had failed you on the physical, and you will not be an Oriole.

“I was here. I had just gotten the physical done a couple hours earlier. I said, ‘All right, get me the next flight out of here because I want to go back home. If they’re not signing me, then get me the [heck] out of here, because someone else is going to sign me.’”

Balfour, who entered the season having converted 62 of 67 save opportunities over the past two years with the Oakland Athletics, has successfully saved all four opportunities this season for Tampa Bay and has allowed just one hit over 4 2/3 scoreless innings entering the series.

Asked whether Balfour now has any added motivation while facing the Orioles -- he has already pitched against the Orioles in spring training -- he said he didn’t need any extra incentive.

“I’m not going to let them dictate what I do,” Balfour said. “Whatever they did is what they did, and they know what they did, and that’s all going to take care of itself. For me, it’s all about playing and winning for my team. I don’t need to do anything more than what I’m doing.

“I’ve told myself every year, I don’t have to go out and try to do any more. Keep doing what you’re doing and stay consistent and within yourself in what you do. I know what I can do and what I’m capable of.”

Balfour said he didn't make contact with any Orioles players before the deal fell through.

“I never talked anyone on the other side to be totally honest with you,” he said.  “I don’t have anyone’s number over there."

And now Balfour said that he’s glad that he landed back with Tampa Bay, where he played for four seasons and has a home.

“To me, they’re no different than anyone else,” Balfour said. “That’s why it’s not a big deal to me. You guys want to talk to me about it. I don’t want to talk about it.

"I’ve really got nothing to say really other than that there’s 29 other teams out there, and they’re one of them, and I want to beat them because I’m here to win. That’s pretty much it.”

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