First season a success for Kimbrel
Braves closer notched 46 saves, won Rookie of the Year
Craig Kimbrel's first season as the Atlanta closer was a great success. The hard-throwing right-hander saved 46 games -- tied for most in the National League -- and posted a 2.10 ERA in 79 games.The NL Rookie of the Year recently spoke with MLBPLAYERS.com.
MLBPLAYERS.com: As a rookie in 2010, you experienced your first taste of the big leagues and also your first taste of playoff baseball. What was the biggest difference between the regular season and the postseason for you?
Craig Kimbrel: In the playoffs, everything just seems to be magnified. Every out, every pitch feels huge. It's something that you can't prepare for, you just have to experience it. That being said, I wouldn't trade the feeling for anything in the world.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Was there a moment during the playoffs when the enormity of it began to sink in?
Kimbrel: It was some time during Game 2. Not long before that I was in the Minors, and here I was. In Game 2, I got to pitch a couple of innings in San Francisco. I was extremely pumped up. It all happened so fast. I was so caught up in the game, it just flew by. I knew I wanted to experience it again.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Talk about breaking into the big leagues.
Kimbrel: Just being able to pitch up here at some point was my goal last year. Coming into this year, I set some goals and just tried to pitch as well as I could.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What were some of the goals you set for yourself coming into this past season?
Kimbrel: The biggest thing for me was to pitch up to my ability. I wanted to go out there and give it all I had every single time I pitched. I didn't have a specific goal like winning a spot in the rotation or a certain number of wins.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Describe the type of pitcher you think you are.
Kimbrel: I think I'm the type of pitcher who comes right at batters. I don't like to nibble around the corners or spot the ball. That is when I am at my best. I want to come right at them.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What type of pitches do you throw, and what is your best pitch?
Kimbrel: I'm a fastball and curveball guy. A lot of guys call it a slider, but I call it a curveball. My best pitch is the fastball ... when it's located properly. My curveball is a good pitch to offset my fastball. People see my curveball differently because of the action of the ball.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Who are some of the closers playing now that you look up to?
Kimbrel: I'm a big fan of Mariano Rivera. He's the type of guy who you expect to get the job done. He doesn't go out there and have wild celebrations when he's done. He steps onto the mound and does his job. It's all business to him, and I really respect that about him.
MLBPLAYERS.com: What's the biggest difference between closing games up here as opposed to in the Minors?
Kimbrel: I think the biggest difference is the pressure. In the end, though, it's similar in that you just have to go out there and do your job. You can't control everything. You can only control how you throw the ball and your pitch selection. You can't control the guy at the plate.
MLBPLAYERS.com: You have a journal-type book in your locker. Is your writing for baseball or personal?
Kimbrel: I keep a log of all my workout routines. I also log what pitches I threw to certain batters, and I am able to look back on that as a reference. It's something I started last year, and I carried it over into this year.
MLBPLAYERS.com: Where do you make your home in the offseason?
Kimbrel: When I'm not playing baseball, I reside in Huntsville, Ala. I like it a lot. It's not a big town, and it's not a small town. I'm able to keep to myself there. I do a lot of hunting and fishing.
MLBPLAYERS.com: If one of your teammates were to come to Huntsville, where would you recommend he go?
Kimbrel: First off, I would invite them to come to my house if they needed a place to stay. I live on a golf course, so I would take them golfing and then maybe go hunting or fishing. Other than that, there's not much to do. We have a space and rocket center, but I've only been there once.
Jeff Moeller is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.