Chat with Craig Kimbrel
Kimbrel won the 2012 NL Rolaids Relief Man Award.
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel stops by to chat about the baseball season.
Kimbrel, @kimbrel46, has led the National League in saves the last two seasons. He set a rookie single season saves record in 2011 with 46, en route to the Rookie of the Year. He was the first pitcher to lead the league in saves in his first two years since Rawly Eastwick in 1975-76.
Send your questions now and join Kimbrel Thursday at noon ET!
Buzzmaster (11:58 AM)
Craig will be here in a few minutes to take your questions!
Buzzmaster (12:00 PM)
How important was it to you to have a successful closer like Billy Wagner there in Atlanta for your first season?
Craig Kimbrel (12:00 PM)
It was very important. At the time, I didn't realize it, but now I do, the things I learned from him. How to compose yourself. How to come back the next day. How to treat the job of closing professionally. You have to act like you're a pro and have done it before.
jim (new jersey)
How do you handle from a mental aspect a poor performance on any given night.
Craig Kimbrel (12:01 PM)
Any time that you fell and don't succeed, mentally you'll be down a little bit. But in baseball, there is always tomorrow. You have to tell yourself, you are going to do the job.
Scott Chambers (Stockbridge, Ga)
You have been arguably the most dominating closer in baseball the past few years, but at the beginning of this year you have a few blown saves and your breaking pitch wasn't biting as much now the past week you seem to be getting dominant again what adjustments have you made mentally and mechanically to return to form?
Craig Kimbrel (12:02 PM)
It's one of those things that in the game of baseball, you might be doing something and not realizing it. Your performance isn't as great. In baseball, it can be as minute as stepping a half inch or inch the wrong way and your pitch will be different. I guess at the beginning of the year I wasn't stepping in the right spot. Now I am.
Hey Craig - was there one moment in your life where you realized: "Holy crap - I can throw a baseball really fast ... I think I can make it to the big leagues." ? If so, what was it?
Craig Kimbrel (12:03 PM)
When I made it!...probably after my first year of pro ball that I thought I had a chance to make it. Out of high school, I was happy to go to college. After college I was happy to be drafted.
What's it like being in the clubhouse with the Upton brothers and Heyward? And, if you weren't playing for the braves, what team would you be rooting for?
Craig Kimbrel (12:04 PM)
Oh, it's great. We have a good time. We're fun. We play all different kinds of music, anywhere form hip hop to bluegrass. It ranges from anywhere. We really have a good time with it.
Why do you arch your back so much when looking at your catcher's signs? Other than looking cool.
Craig Kimbrel (12:05 PM)
Does it look cool? I don't know if it does or not! I've always leaned in to take the signs and put my arm behind my back. It wasn't comfortable, so I just let it hang. I guess that's why it's how it is. I think it changes every day. I can't see myself on the mound. It's not like I practice in front of the mirror.
You help raise money for a charity called "Curing Kids Cancer." Why did you become involved in this cause? And what do you do for the charity?
Craig Kimbrel (12:06 PM)
It's a family who lost their own child who started the charity. It really intrigued me that a family that went through a loss like that would still want to help people. I donate money for every strikeout and save I get. I do a lot of appearances for them. I try to raise awareness and research to see if we can fight off all of the cancer cells off.
As a closer, how do you prepare during pregame everyday knowing there's a good chance you may not pitch?
Craig Kimbrel (12:07 PM)
You have to go in every day the same. If you think you're going to pitch, not going to pitch, you have to have the same routine. Even when I've thrown three or four days in a row, I still will do the same routine, knowing I won't pitch.
Scruggs (Charlotte, NC)
The Braves bullpen just seems to keep rolling along despite a ton of injuries and unexpected role changes. Do you have a supply of Michael Jordan's Secret Stuff out there?
Craig Kimbrel (12:08 PM)
I wish we did. We'd all be drinking it. It shows the depth of the Braves pitching staff in the minor leagues and our entire bullpen. It will be different and guys will step up. We'll be fine. Even to be in our bullpen before the injuries, you have to know what you're doing. Everyone's doing their job.
which upton brother is faster?
Craig Kimbrel (12:08 PM)
I think BJ is faster. He is playing centerfield.
Hey Craig, do you prefer to pitch to your strengths or a hitters weakness? or a little of both?
Craig Kimbrel (12:09 PM)
Little bit of both. You have to understand their weaknesses and strengths, but you can vary away from your strengths too far.
Loudest opposing stadium to pitch in? AND, do you like the bullpens where you are separate from the crowds, or where you are down the foul lines (like Wrigley and AT&T)?
Craig Kimbrel (12:10 PM)
I have to say one of the loudest places to play is Turner Field when its packed. I do like being away from the side of the field like in San Diego and San Francisco. It can put a kink in your neck turning sideways.
Joseph (Suwanee, Georgia)
How is it to have so many dedicated fans in Atlanta? And who do you think will step up with EOF and Venters out?
Craig Kimbrel (12:10 PM)
It's great. I think that's why our team plays so well at home. We have such a great fan base. When they come out, it seems like we play even harder.
Craig!! Huge Braves fan here. Just curious, do you have any pre-game rituals? Any superstitions that you wouldn't dare go against?
Craig Kimbrel (12:11 PM)
I go through the same routine every day. After BP, I shower, clean up. I sit around all day, so I don't want to sit in my sweat. I do wear the same under socks for a long time, until I do bad or blow a save or something like that.
Who's the messiest teammate you have?
Craig Kimbrel (12:12 PM)
That's tough. There are a lot of them. Brian McCann. Dan Uggla. It's bad because their lockers are right next to each other. It looks like a really bad high school bed room that's never been cleaned....it's not me.
Luke (Newcastle, Australia)
G'day mate, who would you consider the hardest guy to pitch to in the majors? Other than Chipper of course
Craig Kimbrel (12:13 PM)
The toughest out so far is probably Jose Reyes. I faced him a lot with the Mets and the Marlins last year. I haven't faced him yet with Toronto. I think he's 5-6 off of me. I've walked him quite a few times.
Byron (New Jersey)
Who's the one team that you do not want to face in the playoffs?
Craig Kimbrel (12:14 PM)
No. There isn't one. You can't go into any mindset saying you don't want to face anybody. You have to take what you're dealt and do it. I think our team is good enough that it could beat anybody.
Jerry Jentzel (Austin,TX)
Did watch the Braves growing up when they were on TBS with the likes of Terry Pendleton, Dave Justice, Ron Gant, Neon Deion, Glavine, Crime Dog McGriff, Maddux
Craig Kimbrel (12:15 PM)
Yes. 100 percent. I'm from north Alabama. I grew up pretty much falling asleep watching the Braves every night. When I was 11, 12, that was an every night ritual. That was our team. We watched them every night.
Craig Kimbrel (12:15 PM)
Thanks for being so supportive, especially the fans on Twitter and being behind us Braves throughout the year.