Manager Kevin Cash said veteran reliever Grant Balfour took Saturday night's news that he was being designated for assignment well, but the move was necessary because the Rays needed more success in the bullpen.
"Very difficult decision with Grant, just because of what he's meant for the organization and the way he's pitched here in a lot of big games, big moments for this organization," Cash said. "It was kind of out of need for our team going forward. We were getting a little short. We need innings. Where we're at with some injuries and situations like that, that was kind of the deciding factor."
At 37, Balfour was the team's oldest player. His 274 appearances are the second most in club history, behind Joel Peralta (296). But Balfour followed last year's rough season (2-6, 4.91 ERA) by allowing three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings this year.
"He was a big part of this clubhouse, this team," Cash said before Sunday's game against the Yankees. "I think it shocked some guys, but the way he handled it helped everything, made it a little bit better."
The Rays filled Balfour's spot in the bullpen by calling up RHP Brandon Gomes from Triple-A Durham. The 30-year-old becomes the oldest member of the Rays' pitching staff. He allowed 2 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings at Durham this year and posted a 0.63 ERA in nine reliever appearances in spring training.
"He's going to be used. He's going to pitch…" Cash said. "I think he was as good as anybody in camp."