Kimbrel joins Braves' crew of NL All-Stars
Rookie closer punches ticket to Phoenix as replacement for Cain
PHILADELPHIA -- Craig Kimbrel had to wait a little longer than he might have hoped, but the Braves' rookie closer learned Sunday night that he has indeed gained his first All-Star selection.
Kimbrel was added to the National League's pitching staff after Matt Cain made his scheduled start Sunday night and consequently made himself unavailable to pitch in Tuesday night's All-Star Game.
With Kimbrel's addition, the Braves now have five players selected to compete in this year's All-Star Game. Catcher Brian McCann, right-handed starter Jair Jurrjens and left-handed setup man Jonny Venters will also compete in this year's Midsummer Classic. Chipper Jones had to pull out Saturday when he opted to undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee.
When the original All-Star selections were announced last Sunday, many of the Braves were upset to learn Kimbrel and Tommy Hanson were not included. While both certainly possess the credentials, Kimbrel seemingly got the nod because NL manager Bruce Bochy preferred to add a reliever who could get loose quicker in the middle of a game.
"Kimbrel and Hanson both deserve to be there," McCann said Saturday.
During his first full season in the Majors, Kimbrel has shown poise and impressed with a fastball that has helped him lead all Major League relievers with 70 strikeouts. His 28 saves lead the Majors and stand as the most recorded by a big league rookie before the All-Star break.
"He's got the mentality to be the closer," Jones said. "Obviously we know about the stuff, but you've got to have some of that, I'm coming right at you with my best stuff mentality. Having played with [Billy Wagner] I knew he was like that. Kimbrel is kind of the same way."
Venters and Kimbrel have served as one of the game's best setup-closer duos this year and the two close friends will now share their first All-Star experience together.
Kimbrel has posted a 2.35 ERA and limited opponents to a .183 batting average while converting 28 of 33 save opportunities this year. After experiencing a couple hiccups in late May and early June, the 23-year-old from Huntsville, Ala., quickly righted himself.
Over his past 14 innings, Kimbrel has not allowed a run. In the process, he has surrendered three hits, issued just three walks and recorded 22 strikeouts.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.