Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
The conclusion of Talking Chop's interview with Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel.
The folks at the World Baseball Classic were good enough to hook me up with this interview, so make sure you take note that all WBC games (not just Team USA) will be broadcast live on MLB Network. Click here for the schedule.
And now, here is the conclusion of my interview with Kimbrel:
Talking Chop: It was a busy offseason for you, congratulations [on getting married] by the way.
Craig Kimbrel: Thank you very much.
Talking Chop: How did you keep up with your baseball-related activities? What kinds of things do you do in the offseason to help you prepare for the season?
Craig Kimbrel: You know I'm pretty laid back in the offseason. This offseason I got married so it was definitely busy. During the offseason I don't do a lot of things baseball related until we get close to Spring. I work out, I hunt a lot -- so that keeps me in shape walking through the woods. But baseball related activities, I don't pick up a baseball until about the first of January. The rest of the time I'm just relaxing, spending time with family. I know things have changed the older I get, but as of right now it's just about giving my arm as much rest as I can, and then when the time comes, pick the ball up and get back in shape.
Talking Chop: And you've already picked the ball back up this year. You're at the pitching camp at the Braves stadium, how is that going?
Craig Kimbrel: Oh it's going great. I wasn't able to make it down there today, today I worked out at a different place, but it's been going good. Have a bunch of guys coming in, working out, it's been a good thing. It's always good to get in there and see everybody, and get back into the feel of things, of going to ballpark and working.
Talking Chop: Will Kimbreling ever be as big as Tebowing?
Craig Kimbrel: [Laughs] I don't know about that. The Kimbreling thing is kind of funny to me. But I would say no, the Tebowing thing is definitely way bigger than Kimbreling.
Talking Chop: How did the dangle armed bend on the mound start? Does it serve a purpose in your preparation for a pitch?
Craig Kimbrel: I've always bent over to take the sign, and I've always had my arm behind my back, kind of looking in for the sign. But then it was in 2010, it got to where it was a little uncomfortable to put my arm behind my back, but I still wanted to lean over to take my signs, so I just started letting it dangle. I guess it kind of made its way up, and I kind of look like I'm bear-hugging something now. It's not somethinng that I thought, "I'm going to do this every pitcher," but it's something that's been working, so I don't plan on chaning it anytime soon.
Talking Chop: Is that a superstitions thing now?
Craig Kimbrel: No, that just how I take my sign. I wouldn't say superstition. I guess you can say any baseball player is superstitious, but if something's not broke, don't try to fix it, that's what I'm working with right now.
Talking Chop: Bullpen pitchers can sometimes be the quirkiest guys on a team. Do you have any superstitions or quirks or any pre-game rituals?
Craig Kimbrel: The bullpen can be, because we have a lot of time on our hands. We get bored and we do all kinds of stuff. I get ready and stretch in the seventh inning every game, and get ready to go just in case the situation comes in the eighth inning. But we just relax, we're sitting down there, we talk about the game, if a certain guy is hot, a certain guy is not, where to pitch a certain guy. Last year we really didn't do anything too crazy. We didn't have Peter Moylan down there with us, and he was one of the guys who did a lot of the pranks and stuff like that. But we might have to break something out next year, you know have a little fun. You kind of just gave me some ideas I might need to come up with, and have a little fun next year.
Talking Chop: Who finally convinced you to get a Twitter account?
Craig Kimbrel: Kris Medlen has been all over me forever to get a Twitter and go out there. You know the whole social media thing is something, being on Twitter, wasn't something that I wanted to be a part of, so I'm not going to get on there everyday. But my wife convinced me to get on it, and Kris helped me and walked me through what to do and stuff like that, but I'm having fun with it. I enjoy getting on there and seeing what fans have to say, and talking to fans -- it's been enjoyable, and I'm glad on Twitter.
Talking Chop: At the beginning of the interview you said that participating in the WBC, representing your country, and trying to win were goals for you. What in-season goals have you set for yourself?
Craig Kimbrel: Obviously for the team our goal is to win the Division and go to the World Series every year. That's not going to change year in and year out, that's going to be the same every year. I try not to set any goal numbers, I'm not going to have a goal where I want my ERA to be this or strikeout this many guys or have this many saves. My goal is just to go out there, and when I take the ball, walk off the field, and the team wins when I have the opportunity to do it, and just go outing by outing. I can't look at the big picture of the season before it even starts, all I can do is when that first game comes, go out there, and if the situation is there save the game for the team, and over and over again throughout the season. And then at the end of the year I can sit back and look at my numbers, but my goal is just to go out there and compete outing after outing and get the job done.
Talking Chop: Are there any plans to add an additional pitch to your repertoire?
Craig Kimbrel: Not as of right now. Every Spring Training I go into Spring trying to throw a changeup, but after about three weeks into Spring that changeup is back in the back pocket, and it just disappears. I'm still going to stay with the fastball and the curveball. If anything else I'm just going to be working on my location, just like I do every spring, throwing it in, throwing it out, making sure I can throw my curveball for a strike. But new pitches, of course I'm going to throw the changeup, but I don't think it's going to come into play at any point during the season.
Later today I'll have another post with some of my thoughts about the interview. Hopefully you've enjoyed the interview, I know I enjoyed it.