Balfour returns home to be with ailing father

Balfour returns home to be with ailing father

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Rays reliever Grant Balfour left camp on Wednesday to be with his ailing father in Australia.

Balfour said recently that his father, David, has been battling pancreatic cancer for about three and a half years.

"This is something that Grant's been dealing with for quite some time now," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Talked to him [Tuesday] night, he seemed OK. We'll give him what he needs."

Balfour is scheduled to be inducted into the Baseball Australia Hall of Fame on Saturday. Balfour said before Spring Training that he didn't expect to attend the ceremony, but he wanted his father to be there.

The Hall moved up Balfour's induction ceremony with David in mind, saying in a statement, "Exceptional family circumstances has led to the heartfelt decision to bring the honor forward for his father to see."

Balfour is expected to miss about a week of camp, but he told Cash he would continue throwing and working out.

Around the horn
• There appeared to be some cause for concern Wednesday morning when left-hander Drew Smyly didn't throw in the bullpen with the rest of his group, but it turns out Smyly has mapped out his own personal schedule with pitching coach Jim Hickey.

Smyly said he feels "great" and expects to make his first Grapefruit League appearance around March 10-11. Cash said Smyly is "not at all" behind schedule.

"They set up kind of a routine that's a little different than maybe some of the other guys, but that's kind of his build-up going into the season," Cash said. "They agreed on it, and we're all for it."

• With reliever Ronald Belisario, infielder Juan Francisco and outfielder Joey Butler arriving Wednesday, the Rays have 37 of their 38 pitchers and catchers in camp and 60 of 63 players overall. Only right-hander Alex Colome (visa issues), outfielder Boog Powell and infielder Eugenio Velez have yet to report.

• Former first-base coach George Hendrick, now a special assistant, also arrived at camp on Wednesday. He spent some time talking with players in the clubhouse and watched batting practice.

• The Rays announced plans Wednesday for their first Spring Training Fan Day, free for all fans for the first full-squad workout, beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday. The promotion will include appearances by mascot Raymond and the Ray Team, giveaways, music, free hot dogs and more. Players and broadcasters will be available to sign autographs, and the Rays team store will offer merchandise specials.

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.