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Troy Patton, Grant Balfour, Bullpen 2014, and Other Orioles Meltdowns


Aug 17, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles pitcher Troy Patton (40) throws in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles defeated the Rockies 8-4. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Troy Patton has been suspended by MLB for the first 25 days of the 2014 season after a second positive test for a banned amphetamine. (A first positive test results in subsequent tests being taken.)

In other good news, it has been announced that the deal with Grant Balfour is off – Dan Duquette saying they will look within for relief answers, or perhaps on the free agent or trade markets as well.

So where do fans look for relief answers?

Some are finding relief in humorous Twitter posts … numbing the hurt by laughing away the pain and giving voice to frustrations. About half of them have words that are not appropriate for this format, but here are a couple of other examples:

Nick Calos ‏@ncal2616m

If the Balfour deal falls through and the O’s sign that thug Rodney, I won’t be very happy. What an embarrassing offseason it’s been

Madison ‏@levineps21m

Why is everyone freaking out over losing Troy Patton for 25 games, last I checked he’s nothing special. #Orioles

Pete Gilbert ‏@WBALPete33m

If we were to envision a worst case scenario for #Orioles offseason, how far off would this reality be?

Tracy Sperry ‏@baseballaholic236m

“@masnRoch: In other news, #orioles would like a do-over on their offseason. Or is it a mulligan?” Uh yeah!

Andrew Stetka ‏@AStetka38m

Funny thing about Patton suspension is, for 25 games, it makes the #Orioles bullpen much better.

For some suggestions and thoughts about where to turn next, you might check our earlier article today.

There was a story at the beginning of the 2012 spring training season where the Orioles were said to be using a psychologist / counselor to work with the players on the non-baseball-related elements of the game. I scoffed at this at the time; but seeing some of the mental anguish that clearly affected some (particularly pitchers who were thought to be can’t-miss rising stars) and now this Patton incident … well, that sort of professional service seems more than a bit advisable.

I am not throwing any stones here; we all are people of clay feet with life issues of varied sorts that make us vulnerable to certain breakdowns. It just looks bigger and more inexplicable when it befalls someone who works in a lucrative career under bright lights … proving again that fame and fortune do not satisfy the soul.

Patton came to the Orioles in the Miguel Tejada trade. He was thought to be a player with tremendous upside potential, and for extended stretches at various times, particularly in 2012, we have seen that ability. Even as a reliever, he is always said to have “starter’s stuff.”

But it was not as evident in 2013. Of the bullpen personnel, when comparing numbers side by side, Troy’s were the least stellar. To me, he never looked comfortable this past season … and not to go too psychoanalytical on you, he seems like a guy carrying a burden.

There was a DWI in 2011, an outside-of-baseball injury, and now this incident. When things of this sort are strung together, modifiers like “pattern of behavior” or “track record of infractions” kind of language get employed.

Again, no rocks from here!  I wish the young man nothing but success in counseling to address his issues and a return to baseball effectiveness at the highest level.

UPDATE – In a report in the Baltimore Sun, which includes comments from Patton, he states that the substance on both occasions (in 2010, and then at the end of the season) was Adderall – a common medication to treat Attention Deficit Disorder. If that is indeed the issue and the substance, that is pretty innocuous. A total of 119 MLB players have exemptions for this medication – though Patton has never been diagnosed with the ADD condition.

The suspension is 25 days in a 162-game season. It is without pay … as it should be. He can return from this, and the Orioles have other left-handed options like Zach Britton, T.J. McFarland, Chris Jones, and Mike Belfiore.

But to have the news hit at the same time that the Balfour deal gets flushed – wow … it is enough to make a person totally paranoid and in need of the aforementioned psychologist!

Twitter: @OSayOrioles // @BaltimoreWireFS

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