Balfour rejoins Rays after his father's passing

Club donning light blue socks on Sunday in honor of reliever's dad

Balfour rejoins Rays after his father's passing

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Grant Balfour returned to camp on Sunday after spending the past couple of weeks in Australia to be with his father, David, who died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday.

"Yeah, [it was a long ordeal] and your mind is on other things," Balfour said. "You know, I was down there working out, too. I wasn't just throwing. My dad wouldn't want me to do that, either. He loves the game, and knowing that he loved the game so much, it really gives me a lot of motivation to want to go out there and continue to just continue my career and do a lot of things for him, too."

David was well known in Australian baseball circles, having once served as the general manager of the Sydney Blue Sox of the Australian Baseball League. To honor David on Sunday, the Rays chose to don the light blue socks worn by the Blue Sox.

"It's pretty neat wearing the blue socks, knowing he was the GM of the Blue Sox," Balfour said. "I thought that was awesome, especially the first day coming back. And being a Sunday, it just seems like it's all fitting. Yeah, it was pretty cool."

Balfour noted that his father had been through a lot in advance of his passing.

"The last couple of weeks have been a struggle," he said. "I had to physically pick him up and shower him. So, a lot of memories and a lot of things. I'm just glad I was there to the end to be with him. There's no regrets there."

Balfour spoke of the service held for David.

"As much as it was a sad day, we wanted to make it a day that really celebrated his life," said Balfour. "I think that was important. There were a few tears shed, but also a few laughs and smiles. I think that knowing my dad and his spirit, he would have enjoyed it."

Rays manager Kevin Cash allowed that he could not imagine what Balfour was going through.

"You know the struggle," Cash said. "He's battled it so long, I don't know if that makes it easier or harder to deal with. But there's a lot of stuff going on in his world. But he seems to be in pretty good spirits coming in. I know he was happy that he got the opportunity to be there, and we're happy for that also."

Balfour continued his throwing program while in Australia. He arrived at camp Sunday morning after a 16-hour fight from Australia to Dallas, then taking another flight from Dallas to Tampa. He spent a little time with his wife and children, then headed to Port Charlotte.

A bullpen sat on the horizon for him on Sunday, and he plans to throw to hitters on Tuesday.

"I was throwing bullpens and I was throwing really good," Balfour said. "So I'm excited for the start the year. Excited to be back with all of the guys. This is my life and this is what I'm comfortable doing.

"I've been doing it for a long time and so you know a lot of people, I think, don't have the opportunity to be around so many guys and have that friendship and stuff. So for me, it's comforting."

Balfour does not anticipate any trouble picking up where he left off.

"A couple of years ago, I threw four games [during Spring Trianing] and ended up having that All-Star year," Balfour said. "Being a guy that's played a little while, I've had some different kinds of Spring Trainings. It gives you a bit of confidence that you threw four games that year and had a great year. I've got room to throw in five games this year. So let's hope it goes like that year."

Bill Chastain is the Rays beat reporter for MLB.com. He has been covering the club since 2004.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.