Unable to walk away from Balfour controversy

Reliever Grant Balfour told MLB Network Radio’s Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden today that four teams are “excited to have me on board,” and he’s got at least one offer on the table.

Duquette, the former Orioles executive, shared some of Balfour’s comments on Twitter. And guess what? Reds physician Dr. Timothy Kremchek chimed in again.

More on that later.

In case you’ve been living in a cave, the Orioles reached agreement with Balfour last week on a two-year, $15 million contract, but they backed away after his physical. The decision created the anticipated firestorm, with Balfour venting and two physicians employed by other teams - and having close relationships with the reliever - questioning why the Orioles moved away from him.

Balfour noted how 29 doctors could say he’s fine and one says maybe he’s not.

“That’s the catch here, you know?” he said.

Actually, it’s three physicians who recommended that the Orioles not give Balfour two guaranteed years due to concerns about his shoulder.

“Obviously, I was disappointed, especially when I know I was healthy,” he said. “I was an All-Star last year. I finished the year with three innings, no runs and three strikeouts. I was throwing 94-95 (mph). I haven’t had a DL stint in eight years for my arm. And I’ve got two well-respected doctors telling me that I’m fine. And my MRI from three years ago when the A’s signed me hasn’t changed one bit. So, you can only leave that to your imagination and wonder why I’m scratching my head.”

Maybe the Orioles were concerned about the scratches on his head.

But seriously ...

Balfour said he won’t accept an offer with a lower base salary as a way to prove that he’s healthy. And he still wants to be a closer.

“I don’t think I have to prove that I’m healthy. I am healthy,” he said. “If the Baltimore Orioles wrote on their report that I’m fine and all of a sudden said there’s an issue and they couldn’t tell me exactly what the issue is with my arm, it makes me wonder if they got cold feet.”

Cold feet, by the way, don’t normally lead to a failed physical unless it’s a sign of a more serious condition.

I’m just blown away that Kremchek and Rays physician Dr. Koko Eaton continue to publicly comment on the Orioles’ physical. Whether they’re right or wrong, I just find it highly unusual.

Eaton examined Balfour on Friday, one day after Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette confirmed that the Orioles were moving in another direction. He has a close relationship to Balfour from their days in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The same is true with Kremchek, who performed elbow and rotator cuff surgery on Balfour in 2005. And Jim Duquette tweeted that Balfour married Kremchek’s personal assistant a few years later.

Again, not saying Kremchek is right or wrong, but he’s definitely not a neutral party. Maybe that’s one point that everyone involved in this mess can agree upon.

“From the MRI, ... I’m surprised at how little (Balfour’s shoulder) changed,” Kremchek said. “We’ve signed guys with worse MRI’s than that.”

I can’t wait for the first time that Balfour enters a game against the Orioles. Oh, the drama.

I’m still predicting that he signs with the Rays, who are shopping Heath Bell. We’ll see.

In the meantime, the Orioles are making a push to sign Fernando Rodney, whose demands will need to come down.

blog comments powered by Disqus