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Balfour defines Australian baseball

17:49 Fri Feb 21 2014
AAP

When the Major League Baseball roadshow arrives in Sydney next month, Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy has a pre-conceived impression of what's going to greet him as he steps off the plane.

And it's all thanks to Australia's most prominent US baseball export, Grant Balfour.

"From playing with Grant, I expect that Australia will be a country full of people who walk around and just swear for no random reason, all day long," says McCarthy.

The pair were on the same pitching staff at the Oakland A's a couple of seasons back, however McCarthy has since moved to the Diamondbacks and Balfour has signed a two-year $US12 million ($A13.34 million) deal with the Tampa Bay Rays starting this season.

Balfour won't be in Sydney when Team Australia help prepare Arizona and the Los Angeles Dodgers kick-off the MLB season at the SCG in late March, but he'll remain the one player from down under who sticks out in the minds of American fans.

The 36-year-old from Sydney has developed into one of the leading closers in the major league, but it's 'Balfour Rage' that's given him his profile.

Last year Balfour cleared the benches when he engaged in an expletive-laden showdown with Detroit slugger Victor Martinez, with the right-armer regularly exploding with emotion on the mound to fire himself up.

The presence of Australians in the American system is growing each year, which is why the MLB have chosen Sydney as an expansion city for their opening series of 2014.

But Balfour is the angry, swearing face of Australian baseball, and McCarthy reckons he's flying the flag proudly.

"He's an absolute blast to play with and I would imagine if I was an Australian baseball fan, that's a fun guy to have representing you because he's about as hard-ass as it gets," he said.

"The yelling at people, the yelling at himself, it's this little sideshow that happens every time he comes in. Everybody shuts up and says, hey, 'let's all watch Grant.'

"I don't know if he's the quintessential Australian, but I know in Oakland he was defined as the Raging Aussie and you get nationality pegged to you, especially when it's a nationality that seems knew to our sport.

"It's great that there's a cross over, I like that. I've gotten to play with quite a few Australians in my career, but he'll always be the one that will stand out the most and I'd think that's the case for most baseball fans."

Balfour caused a stir at Spring Training in Florida this week, when he turned up in a seven-by-2.5 metre black monster truck, complete with big screen tvs.

"I've been surprised I can actually take it to the grocery story or places like that," Balfour told the Tampa Bay Times.