Craig Kimbrel should be ready for Opening Day
Life isn't good for Craig Kimbrel right now. His daughter Lydia has undergone open heart surgery on multiple occasions since November, so he has not been with the team this spring.
The Red Sox have shown him respect. Players have started wearing shirts that say Lydia Strong as they practice during spring training and get ready for the season. Everyone in the Red Sox organization and fanbase is hoping for the best for Kimbrel and his family. That's what comes first. But to answer your question, yes, he should be ready for Opening Day.
Kimbrel threw a live batting practice session on Thursday in Boston. Last week, he also threw a bullpen session and had a local college catcher helping him out.
It might not be the traditional way to prepare for a season for Kimbrel, but it's what he needs to do right now. He needs to be with his family in their time of distress --and he deserves a lot of credit for doing so. He also deserves a great deal of credit for being able to come to the baseball diamond despite what is going on in his personal life.
As you know already, Kimbrel is a tremendous asset to the Red Sox bullpen. One could even argue he is the top closer in baseball.
Kimbrel won the Mariano Rivera Award last year for being the best reliever in the American League. He went 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA and 35 saves in 67 outings in 2017. Oh yeah, and he struck out 126 batters in 69 innings. That's 16.4 strikeouts per nine innings. That's amazing.
If you're wondering who the Red Sox backup closer is now, I think it's probably Carson Smith. He saved 13 games as a rookie with the Seattle Mariners in 2015. He'll probably be the setup man this year.