Rays' Balfour rushes to Australia for cancer-stricken father

The Rays reliever heads to Australia as father fights cancer.
Published February 25 2015
Updated February 26 2015

PORT CHARLOTTE — Reliever Grant Balfour left Rays camp to fly home to Australia as his cancer-stricken father took a turn for the worse.

"Grant's trying to get back there and see him," Rays manager Kevin Cash said Wednesday.

Balfour last visited in December and said that when he left, he knew it might be the last time he saw David, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2010. The cancer has spread to his stomach, neck and brain.

"This is something that Grant has been dealing with for quite some time now," Cash said. "I talked to him (Tuesday) night, and he seemed okay."

The Rays told Balfour to take as much time as he feels necessary, figuring he will be away from camp at least five days, especially with the lengthy travel factored in. (Balfour was to leave Tampa on Wednesday afternoon and arrive 21½ hours later.)

"We'll give him what he needs," Cash said. "It's so early (in spring training) right now, it shouldn't affect (his preparation) too much. Grant does a good job keeping himself in shape."

David Balfour, 62, has been instrumental in his son's career and promoting pro baseball in Australia, serving as owner and general manager of the Sydney team while helping many players sign with major-league organizations.

In tribute, officials are taking the unprecedented step of inducting Grant into Baseball Australia's Hall of Fame while he is an active player so David can attend and represent Grant. That ceremony is scheduled for Saturday.