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Grant Balfour

Tampa Bay Rays — No. 50
Relief pitcher
Born: December 30, 1977 (1977-12-30) (age 32)
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Bats: Right Throws: Right 
MLB debut
July 22, 2001 for the Minnesota Twins
Career statistics
(through 2009 season)
Win-Loss     17-9
Earned run average     4.20
Strikeouts     255
Teams
Balfour pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays on September 22, 2008.

Grant Robert Balfour (born December 30, 1977, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) is a relief pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays. He has previously played for the Minnesota Twins and Milwaukee Brewers. Balfour is well known in some baseball circles for his seemingly ironic name (Ball-Four), considering the fact that he is a pitcher.

Contents

Biography

Balfour spent his high school years at William Clarke College in Kellyville, Sydney, Australia.

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Baseball career

Balfour made his major league debut with the Minnesota Twins in 2001 and played with them until 2004. After missing 2005 with an injury, in 2006 he played in the Cincinnati Reds organization. After a three-year absence, Balfour made his return to the major leagues on July 18, 2007, in the 8th inning with the Milwaukee Brewers. He relieved Chris Capuano in a 2-2 tie with the Arizona Diamondbacks, striking out Chris Young, the first hitter he faced. With two outs in the 8th, he hit a batter and walked another before giving up a three-run home run to Mark Reynolds, giving the Diamondbacks a 5-2 lead. Balfour would finish the 8th and 9th inning and take the loss in relief, having given up three earned runs in the 5-2 defeat.

On the same day that he was designated for assignment, Balfour was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays on July 27, 2007, for Seth McClung. Balfour finished the season in the Rays bullpen and was re-signed to a one-year deal.

Balfour came into 2008 spring training as a long-shot to make the Rays bullpen. Despite a solid spring training, eventually he lost out on the final spot and was designated for assignment. He cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Durham on April 3, 2008.

Balfour was recalled from Triple-A Durham on May 29, 2008. He recorded the save on May 31 against the Chicago White Sox retiring Brian Anderson to end the game in a Rays 2–0 win. In the series sweep against the Chicago Cubs at Tropicana Field, Balfour was credited with two of the three wins - the first on June 16, relieving Scott Kazmir with the score 1-1 and bases loaded, pitching one and one-third perfect innings in a 3-2 win; the second on June 18, entering the game trailing 1–2, and pitching one and two-thirds innings, recording three strikeouts, in a game the Rays won 8-3.

Balfour's 2008 season was considered a pleasant surprise. He finished the year with a 1.54 ERA, a 6-2 record, 4 saves out of 5 opportunities, 14 holds, and 82 strikeouts over 58 1/3 IP in 51 appearances.

In 2009, Grant chose to skip the 2009 World Baseball Classic due to the club asking him not to play for Australia while he was still under contract.[1] Balfour had a less successful season with the Rays who finished 84-78, 19 games behind the New York Yankees. Although he pitched considerably more innings and games pitched, Balfour finished 5-4 and 4 saves with a 4.81 ERA for the season with 69 strikeouts compared to the previous season's 82.

Balfour is known to shout at himself while on the mound and use profanity to fire himself up. On October 2, 2008, during game 1 of the ALDS, Balfour was involved in an exchange of words with Chicago White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera. With the bases loaded and two outs, Balfour's first pitch to Cabrera was outside for a ball. Cabrera then kicked the dirt in front of the batter's box in the direction of the pitcher's mound and according to Balfour, Cabrera told him to "throw it over the plate." Unaware of Balfour's behavior while pitching, Cabrera was under the impression that he was the one being yelled at. The at-bat continued and ended with Cabrera striking out. Balfour stormed off the mound, yelling at Cabrera as he walked to the dugout. Balfour stated after the game that he told Cabrera to "go sit down" and that he "might have mixed one or two words in with it." Deemed a misunderstanding between the two, there were no further incidents in the 4-game series in which the Rays won, with Balfour getting the final out to end it.[2]

In December 2009, Balfour signed a new contract with Tampa, worth $2.05 million over one year.[3]

References

External links


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