Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 2/13/12
If you think Craig Kimbrel will be affected by the events of Sept. 28, 2011, dont worry. He has a closers mentality. He lives moment-by-moment, pitch-by-pitch, inch-by-inch, mph-by-mph. What happens one day wont affect tomorrow. Thats the mindset you have to have as a closer, when you pitch on the edge, when one misplaced fastball can result in a win or a save or a loss. Kimbrel realizes what happened in the last game of the season, when he walked three Phillies and gave up a sac fly in the ninth inning of a game the Braves lost 4-3 in 13 innings, is over and done. He cant do anything now to change fate, to give the Braves one last win, to extend the season. The calendar has flipped. Hes not falling back. Hes springing forward. It was an important game, but in my eyes, it was just another game. It was another game where I was trying to do my job, Kimbrel said. All we can do is get ready for this season, and theres nothing we can do about last season. Kimbrel talked about that night as he prepared for his first spring training as the Braves established closer. This time last year, it was thought Kimbrel, who is blessed with a powerful right arm, would split closing duties with the left-handed Jonny Venters. It wasnt sure who would receive the most opportunities for saves. Both had been ultra successful in 2010 Venters for the entire season and Kimbrel in 21 games but the Braves were prepared to platoon them last season. They thought that since one was right-handed and the other was a lefty, theyd be able to play to their strengths and hitters weaknesses. If one wasnt effective, the other would get the ball. Instead, Kimbrel saved Atlantas opening day win against Washington and never relinquished his new job, even when had two blown saves and a loss before April was over. With Kimbrels 100-mph fastball dominating the ninth on his way to 46 saves and becoming the National Leagues Rookie of the Year, Venters became a shutdown eighth-inning specialist. The two teamed with Eric OFlaherty to become one of MLBs best bullpen trios. (Labeled as OVentbrel last season, theyre still working on a nickname, Venters said last week). Kimbrels first season in the majors was a success, but his fastball didnt always go where he wanted and he walked 32 batters in 77 innings. His ability to throw a ball thats often heard, but not seen helped him strikeout 127 hitters and erase his mistakes. Now in his second season, Kimbrel is better armed for a full year in the majors. He insists his arm felt great in the final month of 2011, but he blew three saves and had a 4.76 ERA in September after a remarkable run of 38 consecutive scoreless appearances. He gave up runs in three of his final four games. Now armed with the knowledge of enduring a 162-game season, he paced himself differently this winter. Kimbrel is a veteran now, not a rookie trying to prove himself or trying to win a spot on the staff. Hes pacing himself, not turning heads on the first day of spring training. But he knows, If I go out there and dont produce and do what Im supposed to do, theres no reason I should still have the job. Im not 100 percent full-bore, but Im still coming in trying to win my job, because I know that if I dont do my job, there are plenty of guys in our bullpen who could do the job that Im doing. Kimbrel is working on a changeup like lightning needs something to make it seem faster but isnt sure if or when hell use it. It all depends how refined I can get it and where I can get it before the season starts. Asked again about last years final game, Kimbrels confidence and ability to forget the past comes through. If faced with that situation again, he wants the ball, another shot, as he called it. He wants to do what he couldnt last year. That mindset is part of the job.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

U.S. Senator “appalled” by Bettman’s stance on concussions

Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms look a little treasonous

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Former NFL LB Armstrong, wife reportedly killed by 16-year-old son

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again


Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Wade says Riley did not push him out of Miami

Nationals among multiple teams inquiring on Mark Melancon

McClain does not show up for Cowboys’ training camp

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Miami women’s basketball coach criticizes Texas A&M following slideshow

Twin Cities preparing for influx of sex trafficking during Super Bowl LII

WATCH: Bautista bat flip will be available as NHL 17 celebration

Former USMNT, current MLS forward Davies battled cancer, in remission

The definitive guide to U.S. Men's Basketball at Rio 2016

Tony Romo training camp picture leads to fat jokes, concern

Matt Cullen’s family eats cereal out of the Stanley Cup

Texas A&M suspends coaches for sexist slideshow

10 most dangerous college football defenders in 2016

Is it time to start taking West Ham seriously?

Storyline from 'Ballers' plays out in Cowboys preseason camp

Texas A&M creates a very sexist version of their fight song for women

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker