While Craig Kimbrel wouldn’t mind if that came to fruition, he’s not blaming his 2016 on that.
“I don’t want to put anything on that because this is my job,” Kimbrel said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s my first year or my tenth year with a team. I need to know how to go out there and perform. I’m not going to put any weight on [it] being a first year in any place.”
Boston’s closer earned a nod to the mid-summer classic, but the beginning of his Red Sox career didn’t go as planned.
“I had a roller coaster year, really,” Kimbrel said. “At times I threw the ball really well. Other times I was kicking myself.
“I think, overall I might’ve had a good year, but personally I think last year was a down year for me. Just trying to figure out some of those kinks [that caused] some struggles I went through last year, just figure those out and try to get them worked out for this next year.
Kimbrel had his worst year statistically, posting an ERA over 3.00 for the first time (3.60), his lowest inning (53) and save (31) totals since he became an everyday closer in 2011.
Although he averaged 14.09 strikeouts per nine innings -- his best average since 2012 -- he averaged 5.09 walks per nine innings, again his worst mark since becoming an everyday closer.
Going deep into counts and walking hitters may have been the biggest problem Kimbrel dealt with. But control isn’t something he’s new too.
“That’s really been my story since I was 12-years-old, was ‘throw strikes,’” Kimbrel said. “At times I got away from that last year.”
If that’s been a problem since his youth, clearly something different has to be done if Kimbrel expects different results in 2017.
And while he plans to address any lingering issues when he gets on the mound at Spring Training, Kimbrel thinks his hiccups in 2016 came down to his mental approach more than anything else.
“I really think it’s just the times I got in trouble, I wasn’t trusting my abilities,” Kimbrel said. “I was going out there trying to do too much. It’s mostly just relax and pitch, and let what happens happen and try not to do too much.”