8/12/2014 8:05 P.M. ET
Balfour still working through mechanics on mound
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Grant Balfour pitched a scoreless ninth inning in Monday's 7-0 Rays win over the Rangers. While he did allow some baserunners, he managed to get the game's final out to preserve the shutout.
The former Rays closer feels like his mechanics are a little bit off, so he has been working with pitching coach Jim Hickey to find what feels right.
"It's just the mechanics of pitching," Balfour said. "Getting to the point where you can put your body where you can execute pitches. I'm getting closer to feeling where I was, where I used to be. There's a few difference. The front side flies open, the arm angle. Just trying to get that arm slot at the same time.
"I can feel that I'm out of kilter when I'm not hitting that spot. The last five or six years, you go through a couple of little things here or there. But for the most part, I could nail that corner all day long with the fastball, breaking balls, whatever. That's why the numbers are there [in the past]. And I know that when I'm on and hitting my spot, they're tough pitches to hit."
Balfour doesn't feel as if he's far off from where he should be mechanically.
"Not a massive thing," Balfour said. "A couple of small things. Last night I probably over-exaggerated a little bit. But I liked my stuff last night. Way better than Chicago. I think I'm headed the right direction from where I was."
Balfour allowed that confidence is a part of the equation.
"It's a big deal," Balfour said. "Pitching is definitely confidence. Hitting is definitely confidence. And you get results, you get confidence. It's big. Not having it can drag you down. When you start feeling it, things roll."
Manager Joe Maddon feels like Balfour has thrown the ball well this season. Maddon cited the fact that left-handers entered Tuesday night's action hitting .220 and right-handers were just .230.
"The thing is, we believe in him so much more than he probably believes in himself right now," Maddon said. "Walks are killing him, the walks are really high. But when he's actually challenging guys over the plate, there's hasn't been a lot of damage."
Kiermaier back in lineup after back issue
ARLINGTON -- Kevin Kiermaier left Monday night's game for precautionary reasons when he felt some tightness in his left lower back, but he was back in the lineup for Tuesday night's contest against the Rangers at Globe Life Park.
"Got a lot of treatment and thought I was going to wake up pretty sore today, but I didn't," Kiermaier said. "I had to let them know I was good to go for the game."
Kiermaier said he swung the bat and he did some range of motion drills to test the back and he reported "I had no problems."
"I did it either sliding back to first or sliding into second," Kiermaier said. "I kind of felt it after I scored [a run]. My next at-bat, I took a swing and missed before I hit that triple. And I felt something. And as I was running, I didn't feel anything. But that next swing, I think I kinda had my adrenaline going. And when I was done running, I got to third, and it started tightening up on me."
Kiermaier said the next inning he was trying to work out some of the kinks by stretching in the outfield and that's when the Rays bench noticed something was wrong.
"So they wanted to take me out for precautionary reasons, because I didn't want to come out," Kiermaier said. "I came in and got my treatment and I'm happy with the way I feel today."
Kiermaier said he wasn't really concerned about the injury being serious.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.