Atlanta Braves' closer Craig Kimbrel is planning to pitch for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, which will take place in March, 2013. Official rosters won't be announced until January, but Kimbrel and the Braves' staff anticipate that he'll be on the squad.
Although the commitment will require Kimbrel to miss a significant part of spring training, Atlanta general manager Frank Wren does not seem concerned, according to David O'Brien. Kimbrel's duties as closer for Team USA are likely to be very similar to the workload he would have in the Grapefruit League. Wren said that his main concern is the intensity of the competition, not Kimbrel's pitch count. If it's any extra assurance, USA's pitching coach will be former Braves great Greg Maddux.
In 2012, Kimbrel completed one of the greatest seasons a closer has ever had. He finished fifth in the National League Cy Young Award voting, and carried a 1.01 ERA. In 62 ⅔ innings, Kimbrel allowed just seven earned runs, while amassing 42 saves and 116 strikeouts.