World Baseball Classic Hindering Atlanta Braves Closer Craig Kimbrell
For the most part the Atlanta Braves have been able to go about their spring schedule without thinking too hard about the looming World Baseball Classic. That isn’t the case now as it approaches ever closer. The big factor that is a potential problem right now is Craig Kimbrell. The world class closer made his final spring training appearance on Saturday before having to leave for Team USA and the WBC.
What’s the problem? He hasn’t had a very good spring. Now, normally that wouldn’t be a problem. It’s just early March and the season doesn’t start for another month. The fact that he has to leave for competitive baseball in the WBC before he is ready is something potentially very problematic.
A large part of the closer role relies on confidence and presence. Can Kimbrell really go out in the WBC with full confidence when he knows he hasn’t gotten full control of his pitches yet? I think that might be a problem because frankly, he could get shelled. He could go out and face great hitters that already have their timing down and get knocked all over the ballpark. Hopefully it won’t happen but if it does he could certainly be negatively affected in the area of his confidence.
The only ways I can see this not casting a shadow over the first part of Kimbrell’s season are if he pitches suddenly at one-hundred percent or if he considers the WBC somewhat still to be spring baseball. Kimbrell has great stuff and I’m sure he’ll be fine. I just would hate to see him think about changing things he shouldn’t change just because of the pressure of the WBC. Hopefully it will be fine but I have one of those ‘bad feelings’ about it. We’ll see.