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Grant Balfour out as Tampa Bay Rays closer

By Alex Jordan,

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Grant Balfour is out as the teams closer for now, the team announced on Monday.

Balfour has been struggling this season. He allowed five runs in the top of the ninth inning of Sunday’s game against the Seattle Mariners. The Rays lost the game and it was their 12th loss in 13 games. Manager Joe Maddon said that "the whole group" could be the closer for the Rays, depending on what the ninth inning matchups are. Jake McGee, Joel Peralta, and Juan Carlos Oviedo appear to be the favorites to be the closer. Oviedo has 92 career saves, while Peralta has 11 and McGee has one, according to Fox Sports.

"I just want him to understand that I want to take a little bit off of his plate right now and get him going in the right direction," Maddon said. "Again, here's one of the most consistent relievers over the last couple of years in the big leagues. It just hasn't been working. It just hasn't been working yet, and it will. So for right now, I just wanted to back off just a little bit."

On Monday Balfour said, "I haven't pitched like I know I can, like I know I should. But at the same time, yesterday I really felt like it could have been a 10-pitch inning, three strikeouts. It was one pitch away."

Balfour, who was an All-Star in 2013, signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Rays in January. In 24 games this season he is 0-2 with a 6.46 ERA and nine saves in 11 opportunities, according to the Associated Press. He has walked 20 batters.

Maddon said that Balfour should get a chance to close some games later this season. The Rays will use a closer-by-committee approach for now.

 
 

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