Kimbrel scrambles to make way to Majors

Newson November 19th, 2010No Comments

WASHINGTON — Craig Kimbrel learned that it would be beneficial for any of Triple-A Gwinnett’s Major League prospects to have manager Dave Brundage’s phone number stored in their cell phones. As Kimbrel was eating in Buckhead around 3:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, he received a call from a number that he didn’t recognize. Fortunately, he opted to listen to the message provided by Brundage, who was calling the young reliever to inform him he had received his first call to the Majors.

“He said you might want to call me back, so I called him right back,” Kimbrel said. “Good thing I did because I wouldn’t be here.”

Approximately four hours after sitting in the middle of Atlanta for a bite to eat, Kimbrel found himself arriving at Nationals Park to experience his first night as a Major Leaguer. The 21-year-old right-hander arrived during the fourth inning, and a short time later he found himself exchanging hugs and handshakes in the visitor’s bullpen.

“It was a big surprise,” Kimbrel said. “I didn’t see it coming. I woke up this morning around 6:30, went and played golf, ate lunch and was going to go to dinner.”

The hectic schedule change was necessitated when the Braves decided late Wednesday afternoon to place Jair Jurrjens on the 15-day disabled list. After learning that he would be filling the vacant roster spot, Kimbrel had to drive approximately 20 minutes north to grab some clothes and then drive at least another 30 minutes in the opposite direction to get to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in time for a 6 p.m. ET flight. When asked if he used the HOV lane to combat Atlanta’s traffic, Kimbrel smiled and said, “I had somebody with me, so it made it legal.” Kimbrel comes to the big leagues with plenty of confidence. He has recorded 21 strikeouts and issued just five walks while posting a 1.20 ERA in 11 appearances for Gwinnett this year.

“They say he’s throwing really well down there,” Braves manager Bobby Cox. “He impressed us during [Spring Training].”

Kimbrel, who didn’t allow a run in the nine innings he completed during his first Major League camp this year, has been described a right-handed Billy Wagner. Thus maybe it is fitting that many also consider the 5-foot-10 hurler to be the Braves closer of the future. With Kris Medlen tabbed to start in Jurrjens’ place on Saturday, Kimbrel will be filling his void in the bullpen. The only damage incurred by the young reliever this year came when he allowed Durham a pair of runs during an April 24 one-inning appearance that included a hit batter, a walk and a wild pitch.

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