Grant Balfour RP TB 6 Days

Balfour left the Rays' spring camp Wednesday to attend to his ailing father in Australia, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Balfour's father has been battling cancer, so look for the team to give the pitcher as much time as he needs to be with his family. Once he returns to spring training, he'll slot back into the competition for the closer's role, which also includes Brad Boxberger, Ernesto Frieri, and Kevin Jepsen. Given that Balfour's poor performance cost him the ninth-inning gig last season, it's difficult to imagine him reclaiming those duties unless he shows a dramatic improvement with his command, which betrayed him far too often in 2014.

Grant Balfour RP TB 23 Days

Balfour has been throwing and working out with teammates prior to spring training, the Rays' official site reports. "I go into every offseason thinking I'm going to have a good year," Balfour said. "Last year wasn't what we wanted as a team. And personally ... wasn't what I wanted. But it's 2015 now. We've turned the page. [There have been] a lot of changes here, and we're excited about it all."

Balfour pitched well in September after struggling for most of 2014, closing out the final month with a 2.89 ERA in 11 appearances. While Jake McGee is expected to miss the start of the season while recovering from elbow surgery, it's expected that Brad Boxberger will temporarily hold the closer role for the Rays.

Grant Balfour RP TB 6 Months

Balfour earned the win Monday against he Red Sox, pitching a shutout 10th inning.

Balfour allowed a hit in the inning, but nothing would come of it. The veteran's return to Tampa Bay this season hasn't gone too well, as Balfour has posted an unsightly 5.17 ERA this season. Things were no better in August, when he posted an even worse 5.93 ERA.

Grant Balfour RP TB 6 Months

Balfour was charged with his fifth loss of the season after giving up three runs on a hit and three walks as the Rays fell in extra innings to the Tigers. He failed to record an out.

Balfour appeared to restore some confidence by turning in three scoreless appearances in a row prior to Tuesday, but he may have sacrificed all that goodwill with his putrid showing against the Tigers. The right-hander found the strike zone on just two of his 14 pitches, adding another dubious footnote to a nightmarish season.

Grant Balfour RP TB 7 Months

Balfour allowed a hit and picked up one strikeout during a scoreless inning in Sunday's loss to the Yankees.

With the Rays trailing 4-2, Balfour came in to work the top of the ninth in Sunday's contest. Though the veteran reliever has now allowed just two hits over four scoreless innings during his last three outings, do not look for Manager Joe Maddon to deploy him in high-leverage situations anytime soon.

Grant Balfour RP TB 8 Months

Grant Balfour revealed Saturday that he believes he's been tipping his pitches.

Balfour has walked 27 over 36 1/3 innings this season, so it's not just pitch-tipping that's led to his issues. However, it could certainly be a factor in his struggles. "I have a few things, and it's been cleaned up," Balfour said. "You look at the numbers and you think maybe they knew what was coming at certain times. That can explain a few things here and there. I'm not saying I pitched the best, but it doesn't help when someone knows what's coming. It could be an issue. It's definitely cleaned up, so we'll find out."

Grant Balfour RP TB 9 Months

Grant Balfour tossed 2 1/3 perfect innings to pick up his 10th save of the season in Wednesday's win over the Cardinals.

Making his first appearance since he was battered by the Mariners, which led to his demotion as the team's sole closer, Balfour rebounded nicely, retiring all seven batters he faced. He's now 10-for-12 in save opportunities with a 5.88 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, and a 22/20 K/BB ratio in 26 innings.

Grant Balfour RP TB 9 Months

Rays manager Joe Maddon announced Monday morning that he will begin using a committee at closer.

Grant Balfour was slammed for five runs in the ninth inning of the Rays' loss to the Mariners on Sunday, pushing his ERA for the season to 6.46. The 36-year-old has had problems with both control and effectiveness, and Maddon told reporters before Monday's matinee with Seattle that he wants Balfour to get his confidence back in a less pressurized role. Jake McGee and Juan Carlos Oviedo are the best options for vultured saves in the meantime. McGee has been especially dominant this year.

Grant Balfour RP TB 9 Months

Rays manager Joe Maddon said Sunday that he's sticking with Grant Balfour at closer "as of today."

"Even if I was going to change anything, I wouldn't tell you guys anyhow," Maddon said to the media after watching Balfour serve up five earned runs in the top of the ninth as the Rays fell to the Mariners. Balfour has a disappointing 6.46 ERA, 1.65 WHIP, and 21/20 K/BB ratio in 23 2/3 total innings this season. Jake McGee and Juan Carlos Oviedo should both be stashed in mixed fantasy leagues.

Grant Balfour RP TB 9 Months

Grant Balfour took his second blown save after giving up a run in the ninth Thursday against the A's.

Balfour managed to preserve the tie from there, but it was another poor outing from a guy with a 5.89 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP. The Rays will have to weigh replacing him in the ninth, likely with either Joel Peralta (a potentially less expensive option) or Jake McGee (clearly their best reliever). We'd lean towards Peralta getting the nod, but the Rays may wait and give Balfour one more chance.