The beginning of the week brought some optimism with the signing of Grant Balfour and later the trade to acquire David Lough, but the week ended with one of the worst days of the offseason. The Baltimore Orioles backed out of the Balfour deal due to issues with his physical and LHP Troy Patton was suspended 25 games by Major League Baseball, all before dinner.
"Our scouts evaluate a player's skill and ability and capability to help the team, but our medical staff's evaluation also is a vital part of the process, especially when you're going to make a significant financial investment in an Orioles player," Duquette said. "If we do our job right, we align those interactions consistently so we can sign players who are available to contribute to the team for the entire term of their contract. I guess the good news is there are other opportunities that we're looking at as we try to improve the ballclub. But in this situation, the deal is not coming together."
"I think from the Orioles' perspective, we're going to look at some of our other options and turn our attention elsewhere. This conversation we had did not result in adding a player to the ballclub. Like I said, we're going to turn our attention somewhere else right now. That's from the Orioles perspective."
Those other options would be guys such as Fernando Rodney and Chris Perez, who are the best available closers on the free agent market. In fact, Yahoo Sports reported late yesterday evening that the Orioles had reached out to Rodney's agent. Baltimore could attempt to sign one of those guys, or try to add a closer via trade, and at last could simply end up looking in the organization for their closer, which would most likely be Tommy Hunter.
It got even worse for fans and Orioles front office staff as the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser reached Balfour by phone and tweeted the following statements:
Grant Balfour is mystified by #Orioles backing out of deal because of health concerns, tells me he is "100 percent fine."
Balfour tells me his MRIs, incl R shoulder, are the exact same as they were three years ago. "I'm the All-Star pitcher I was last season."
More Balfour: "My shoulder is fine, everything is fine. I'm ready to come out there in the ninth inning, do what I do."
Balfour says he doesn't want to bad-mouth anyone, says of the #Orioles, "I guess they chose to go another route."
Don't worry, it did not end there, as Balfour's agent, Seth Levinson issued a statement on the closer:
"Grant is completely healthy and that was told to us today by Dr. Koco Eaton, a well-respected club physician. Dr. Eaton's opinion is based upon the fact that the MRI which was taken today is the same as the MRI which was taken in 2011 as a condition of the 3-year contract that Grant signed with the A's. Dr. Tim Kremchek, another well-respected club physician, reviewed the Orioles' medical report and advised that he is remarkably impressed that there has been little change in Grant's arm for almost 10 years. Now factor into the equation that Grant was a 2013 All Star, pitched 65 games and another 3 scoreless innings in the post season with a 94-95 mph fastball. The only reasonable conclusion is that Grant is healthy and the Orioles at the last moment changed their minds."
The bad day for the Orioles did not end there as MLB announced that LHP Troy Patton will be suspended for the first 25 games of the 2014 season due to testing positive for an amphetamine, which is in violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. This is the second time Patton has tested positive for an amphetamine, which later in the day we found out that it was aderal.
"We were disappointed to learn of Troy Patton's suspension, which we were informed of today," Duquette said. "The Orioles support Major League Baseball's policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing substances from the game. This is a 25-game suspension and Tory is placed on the restricted list."
As you can tell, it was not a great day around the Warehouse and now the team's biggest acquisition thus far in the offseason has been OF David Lough or reliever Ryan Webb. There is no way of telling how this fiasco with Balfour and the physical will effect other free agent's willingness to even talk with the Orioles, but if it has any influence you can't imagine it would be anything but a poor one.
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