Kimbrel plans to pitch for Team USA

NASHVILLE — Craig Kimbrel is planning to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in March, meaning the All-Star closer could miss a couple of weeks of Braves spring training if Team USA advances to the championship round.

Braves pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 11, and their Grapefruit League opener is Feb. 22. Team USA’s players will have a March 4-6 training camp before playing first-round games March 8-10 in Phoenix.

Braves general manager Frank Wren said he didn’t think it would be a problem, and that there would be plenty of communication with a Team USA staff that includes manager Joe Torre and three former Braves as coaches: Dale Murphy, Greg Maddux and Gerald Perry. Maddux will serve as pitching coach.

“I think we’re coming in early enough [for spring training] that by the time they have to actually perform [in the WBC], you feel pretty good about it,” Wren said. “And I probably feel better about a closer than a starter in this case. Because he’s going to be able to have enough [Grapefruit League] outings that he can go one good inning and help a team like that.”

As for innings and appearances, Kimbrel’s workload with Team USA probably won’t differ much from what he’d be doing in Grapefruit League games if he stayed with the Braves all spring.

“The intensity is going to be different, and that’s what we all worry about,” Wren said. “It’s not the workload. There’s enough restrictions from a standpoint of pitch counts and usage that we’re very well protected in that area. The intensity level that they’re throwing at at that point in the spring — that’s the unknown.”

If Team USA advances, its second-round pool play is March 12-16 in Miami, and the championship round is March 17-19 in San Francisco. Major league players rejoin their teams for regular spring training work between rounds.

Rosters won’t be announced until January, and the only major leaguers who’ve officially committed to Team USA are the Mets’ David Wright and the Twins’ Joe Mauer. Their names were announced at a Monday press conference along with major leaguers committed to play for other countries, including American League MVP Miguel Cabrera for Venezuela.

Longtime former Braves center fielder Andruw Jones plans to play again for the Netherlands, mother country of his native Curacao.

15 comments Add your comment

Wetdirt

December 4th, 2012
8:47 pm

An off season first?

Steve

December 4th, 2012
9:06 pm

What do you get for being first “Wetdirt?”

CaliBrave

December 4th, 2012
9:43 pm

Hey DOB – just got back from the Opryland hotel. Convinced my wife to take our daughter to the Santa there. Coincidence that the Winter Meetings were being held there? Nope.

Nice atmosphere of collegiality in the sessions, halls, bars, and restaurants. I get what you’ve been saying for years – that this is about relationships and catching up, not making deals. I’m sure deals get done, but I sense most folks are content to just get a feel of teams relative needs.

Do you get invited to club get togethers? Or do the news folks have their own events?

I made a comment to my wife and MIL about the scarcity of women in the management mix. Then saw the special session today on Women in MLB Leadership. What’s your perspective on what is wrong or right in MLB for women?

And just to keep on topic, I love the fact Kimbrel will play for Team USA. I may regret that in September, but I like to see him use his talents on the world’s stage.

Wetdirt

December 4th, 2012
9:52 pm

Knowing I have nothing else to do than wait for DOB or Carol to post a story, I guess, moral satisfaction?

glorydays

December 5th, 2012
12:48 am

I see in the article that Maddux is pitching coach, is he interested in being a pitching coach in the Braves system?

Royster

December 5th, 2012
10:31 am

Good reason to hope we lose in the first round of the WBC!!

usatl

December 5th, 2012
10:43 am

Kimbrel the only Brave for team USA? No Heyward/Freeman? Any internationals?

Mitchell

December 5th, 2012
1:41 pm

I hope they get shutout so he doesn’t have to pitch.

Why are Major Leaguers competing in this event anyway?

A guy blowing out his arm or the prospect of any star player suffering a major injury in the WBC, it’s not worth it in the least.

Better Timing for WBC

December 5th, 2012
3:35 pm

MLB shroud take a two half week break mid season and play the WBC then. It would enable better competition from all countries, amd better promote the game. From a financial aspect this would a future financial growth. Asod now it is just a spring training spectacle that is really not as good as it should be. The NHL takes a 2-3 week break when the Winter Olympics are on…why not MLB? Especially if they were the ones to create it!

JC

December 7th, 2012
9:53 pm

Really bad idea, beyond me that teams allow their players under contract to be at risk in essentially meaningless games. Agree with Royster and even Better Timing for WBC.

dur

December 9th, 2012
1:34 pm

He wants to pitch for his country. Nothing wrong with that. It stupid when people only want to praise troops for serving our country and bash someone else for wanting to pitch for it. To him pitching is his way of serving his country since he plays baseball for a living and is not overseas serving with our troops. The complainers are just thinking about themselves and their team and do not care what Kimbrel himself wants. I hope he pitches well for USA and for the Bravos!! Nothing wrong rooting for both!

Yes, I get some folks are afraid of injury yada yada blah blah…..but that argument is weak since Kimbrel obviously factored that into his decision and he is still pitching for Team USA and he feels he can do it without incident. Lets just calm down and hope he doesn’t get hurt and enjoy watching a true talent show other countries what American players are all about. I am glad at least CaliBrave and usatl gets it!

stew

December 10th, 2012
4:57 pm

Don’t let him pitch.

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