ATLANTA -- Craig Kimbrel did not flash his dominant form during the World Baseball Classic or at any point during the spring season. But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez believes his closer will be just fine once he gets a chance to feed off the adrenaline provided by meaningful games during the regular season.
"It just takes a little bit of a tweak to his delivery and he gets right back on track," Gonzalez said. "I think he'll be fine. When you're a closer, you get juiced up for that ninth inning -- and it's hard to get that adrenaline that you live for in the sixth inning of a Spring Training game."
Kimbrel allowed five hits and recorded three strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings during the Classic. The most important game he pitched in during this stretch was on March 14, when he allowed hits to three of the five batters he faced and got the loss in a key game against the Dominican Republic.
Kimbrel allowed a run in just one of the five appearances he made after returning from the Classic. But he loaded the bases before escaping unscathed in both of his final two appearances. The first was against a split-squad Astros team on Thursday and the second came against some of the Braves' top Minor Leaguers in Saturday's exhibition game in Mississippi.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less