8/4/2014 10:23 P.M. ET
Balfour grateful for raging time in Oakland
By Aaron Leibowitz / MLB.com
OAKLAND -- For three days, Balfour Rage is back at the Coliseum.
Grant Balfour saved 64 games during his three-year tenure in Oakland, blossoming into the A's closer for back-to-back division-winning teams in 2012 and '13. The A's elected to go a different route this season, but the Rays' right-hander has nothing but love -- not rage -- for the Oakland players and fans.
"A lot of good memories, no doubt," Balfour said Monday before the opener of a three-game set. "It's exciting to come back to a place where you played and you had success. We did some good things, made it exciting, and brought back the winning baseball to Oakland."
Balfour appeared headed for Baltimore in the offseason, but Tampa Bay snagged him after that deal fell through. A return to Oakland, Balfour said, was never on the table.
"I don't want fans to think I rejected an offer to come back here, because it was never there," he said. "I had a great time out here. ... Felt like I put together some good years and gave the fans something to have a good time about."
The Coliseum crowd embraced Balfour's fiery style -- and his 2.53 ERA from 2011-13 didn't hurt.
"They were great to me," he said. "I couldn't ask for anything more of those guys. I've got to thank them all for the way they took me in and the way they made me feel."
This season has gone less smoothly for Balfour, who lost his closer's job in June and has a 4.79 ERA in 43 appearances. However, he has not allowed a run in 15 of his last 17 outings.
Maddon gives Smyly simple plan for Rays debut
OAKLAND -- When Drew Smyly makes his first Rays start on Tuesday night against the A's, manager Joe Maddon wants to make absolutely sure the lefty's mind is not overflowing with information.
Maddon has given him a simple game plan with some gentle suggestions, but other than that, Smyly will be on his own.
"A couple suggestions we have, we've already given him for tomorrow. They're extremely simple," Maddon said before Monday's series opener at the Coliseum. "These are the couple suggestions we have for you to think about, and then if you want to utilize them, fine."
One thing Maddon certainly did not suggest: for Smyly to try to replace departed ace David Price.
"We want him to be himself," Maddon said. "He's been pitching well. We don't want to get in his way right now."
"You're not going to replace David Price," said Smyly. "The Rays made the trade, they wanted me, so I'm going to do the best I can and try to learn from them and get better every game. I'm just doing me."
Smyly was 6-9 this year with a 3.93 ERA in 21 appearances (18 starts) for Detroit before being traded in a three-team, non-waiver Deadline deal. He has logged 105 1/3 innings, and Maddon has received no information about any innings restrictions.
The southpaw had his worst start of the season in Oakland on May 26, giving up six runs in five innings. He will have a chance to avenge that loss -- and to kick-start his Rays tenure -- on Tuesday.
"I'm very anxious, anxious to get that first game under my belt," Smyly said. "Hopefully I can make a good impression for all these guys."
• Wil Myers (right wrist) worked out Monday in Port Charlotte, Fla., and did "really well" with a series of drills and exercises, according to Maddon. Myers plans to do the same on Tuesday.
• The current A's roster features six former Rays players, prompting Maddon to refer to the group on Monday as the "Ra-A's."
Pitchers Scott Kazmir and Jason Hammel, catchers John Jaso and Stephen Vogt, and outfielders Sam Fuld and Jonny Gomes all spent time in Tampa before coming to Oakland.
Aaron Leibowitz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.