Kimbrel’s wife Ashley gave birth to the couple’s first child, Lydia Joy, in November. Lydia Joy was born with a heart ailment and had a first medical procedure when she was a few days old. Surgery is scheduled at Boston’s Children’s Hospital.
“I love baseball, but I also love my family,” the Red Sox closer said Tuesday. “I’m here to work. I’m here to focus and try to get better. When I leave the ballpark, my heart and my mind are definitely at home.”
“The doctors have been amazing, very encouraging,” he added. “There’s a plan for everything. You want to be there and do everything you can, but you have to step back and trust the doctors and doing what we can.”
Kimbrel is making $13 million this year and can become a free agent after the season. He turns 30 on May 28 and had 35 saves in 39 chances last year and led major league relievers with 16.43 strikeouts-per-nine innings.
Under new manager Alex Cora, Kimbrel could be used earlier in games in important situations.
“I think I’ll be used in positions I need to be used in, closing a lot of games and getting us out of some tough spots when I need to,” Kimbrel said.
Cora maintains usage won’t change much.
“People think it’s a big adjustment,” he said. “But if you start looking at the numbers, you don’t lose too many saves if it’s the way you want to use him. We’re not talking about the lower third of the lineup. We’re talking the middle of the lineup, eighth inning, certain situations — what I feel is game on the line.”