Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' Grant Balfour feels good as season approaches

PORT CHARLOTTE — RHP Grant Balfour was upset in December when a two-year deal with the Orioles was nixed due to their concerns over his physical.

But Balfour, who ended up with a two-year, $12 million deal to be the Rays' closer, said he wasn't any more emotional than usual facing Baltimore on Wednesday.

"Just a little more fuel for me," he said.

More important, Balfour was happy with how he threw — and felt — in allowing just an infield hit in a scoreless inning during his second-to-last outing of the spring.

"I feel like my arsenal is there, and I feel really good about what I've got going into the season," Balfour said.

Though Balfour's fastball has been at just 90-92 mph this spring, he said that's normal and it typically builds throughout the season.

"I know it's coming," Balfour said. "Even at where it's at right now, it's live, and that's a good sign. One year I started the year throwing 90-92 and I ended up throwing 97 in the last game. The arm builds up as it goes along."

LOWE DOWN: Veteran RHP Mark Lowe was granted his release from the Rays, saying though he was disappointed he didn't make the bullpen, there's "no hard feelings" and he'd be open to a return.

Lowe, 30, told Tuesday that he wasn't in the Rays' plans, said he has already been in contact with a number of teams, hoping to land on an opening-day roster. If no big-league opportunity comes up, he said he'd consider coming back to the Rays to pitch at Triple-A Durham because he respected the Rays for letting him go a couple of days before Friday's opt-out date of his deal.

"They're definitely at the top of my list," Lowe said. "I don't think that going to Triple A is a fun thing to think absolutely, but that's a realistic possibility. And I see no reason why not."

Lowe believed he had the best spring of his career, allowing one earned run over 101/3 innings, but he wasn't shocked he didn't make the Rays.

"I knew there was a pretty packed house in the bullpen, and it's just the way it goes," Lowe said. "I couldn't have done anything different; that's basically what they told me."

PRICE CHECK: Maddon said LHP David Price was "outstanding" in allowing three runs on five hits in four innings in his final tuneup before his opening-day start. Price, who struck out five and walked one in a 73-pitch outing, said he has never felt this good physically entering a season. Said Price: "That was hands down the most productive spring that I've have, mentally, physically."

GAME DETAILS: Ex-Ray Delmon Young, who is likely to make the Orioles' opening-day roster, continued to hurt his former team, picking up two hits and knocking in two runs in a 4-4 tie. "Delmon's been wearing the ball out all spring," Price said. … Wil Myers made a nice diving catch in the third inning. He was pinch-run for after getting hit in the leg by a pitch in the seventh but is okay. … 1B James Loney had another three hits, and LF Matt Joyce, batting leadoff, got two. RHPs Brandon Gomes and Juan Carlos Oviedo each pitched a scoreless inning.

WITH HONORS: Myers will be honored as the 2013 American League rookie of the year in a pregame presentation at Tropicana Field on April 5.

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