Kimbrel apologizes for reaction to being pulled
Braves closer lifted after giving up two runs, loading bases in win vs. Mets
NEW YORK -- When Craig Kimbrel was removed during the ninth inning of Saturday night's 7-5 win over the Mets, he visibly expressed his displeasure toward Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. But approximately 20 minutes later, the dominant closer contritely apologized for his on-field actions.
"I just went in and apologized to [Gonzalez]," Kimbrel said as he stood in front of his locker at Citi Field. "It's disrespectful to him and to the team, and that's just not the kind of person I am. I felt awful about it. That was me as a competitor and my emotions. It wasn't how I felt."
When the Braves gained a four-run ninth-inning lead, it appeared Kimbrel had been given the perfect situation to shake off some of the rust that had developed as he had gone exactly a week without pitching. But the only positive he took away from this 24-pitch appearance was his previously sore right shoulder felt good.
The ailment prevented Kimbrel from pitching in a save situation on Monday and might have influenced the decision to allow Julio Teheran to go the distance in Wednesday's win over the Phillies.
"The shoulder felt great, maybe too good," Kimbrel said. "I was having a hard time finding the strike zone. I'll come in tomorrow and hopefully there is a situation where I can get back out there."
Kimbrel allowed three hits, issued a walk and surrendered two runs while recording just two outs on Saturday. He hit Eric Young Jr. with a pitch and then surrendered consecutive one-out hits, including David Wright's RBI double. After a Curtis Granderson strikeout, the Braves closer allowed Chris Young's RBI single. When Kimbrel then walked Lucas Duda to load the bases, Gonzalez strolled to the mound to replace his closer with Jordan Walden, who ended the game with a Travis d'Arnaud groundout.
As Gonzalez approached the mound, television cameras caught Kimbrel say what appeared to be, "You're taking me out?"
"I like to compete and I'm a competitor,"Kimbrel said. "Anytime you get taken out, you get upset. I did. I probably shouldn't have acted like I did. It's one of those things trying to protect me from throwing too many pitches. We still got the win, so that's awesome."
"We came in here and talked a little bit and he's fine," Gonzalez said. "Like all good athletes and good competitors, they want the ball and you have to pry it out of their hands."
Gonzalez did not seem bothered by Kimbrel's actions or performance, which the Braves skipper said was likely a result of the stretch of inactivity.
"He hadn't pitched in seven days," Gonzalez said. "It didn't matter to me if the score was 1-0 or 100-1, we were going to try to get him in the game today at some point just to shake some of the rust off. You don't want him throwing 30-40 pitch inning to get out of the jam. Roger [McDowell] and I talked about giving him 23-25 pitches and getting him out of there. The good thing is we got him on the mound and got him pitching."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.