Braves closer Craig Kimbrel scores hole-in-one

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) – Atlanta Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was almost unhittable in 2012. He has bigger plans this season. He got off to a great start on Monday when with a hole-in-one at the tough ChampionsGate Golf Club. Kimbrel lost sight of the ball on the 180-yard second hole, and figured it fell into a greenside bunker. He looked everywhere except the hole. "I couldn't believe it," Kimbrel said. "I think it went in on the fly. It was my first one." Kimbrel got a break after the round when he was made aware that it was up to anyone shooting an ace to buy a round of drinks for everyone."
"It was a charity event," Kimbrel laughed. "There was an open bar. I paid for it all." The shot was cool, but Kimbrel has even better reasons to be in a good mood. He had a terrific 2012 season, striking out more than half of the batters he faced during the regular season. No one had ever done that in baseball history. Kimbrel said he knew he was close to the record as the season wound down. He captured the record by striking out the final three batters he faced in the regular season finale against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was a nice follow-up to Kimbrel's 2011 performance when he was named the National League rookie of the year. He pitched in 79 games that season, posting 46 saves, then followed it up last season with 53 saves in 63 games while putting up a 1.01 earned run average. Despite the workload, Kimbrel said he didn't think it was any big deal. "I only pitched in 63 games or something," Kimbrel said. "I could have pitched in more, but the bullpen is so deep. Those 63 games were nothing." With the addition of former Angels all-star Jordan Walden, he might have a smaller workload this season. Atlanta has one of the deepest bullpens in baseball. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said that, just getting the ball to the sixth inning makes things a lot easier with the depth in the bullpen. "If we get the game to the sixth inning, it is almost over," Gonzalez said. "With Walden, I think we have the best bullpen in baseball to get to the closer. Kimbrel doesn't need to worry about more than one inning with these guys. Kimbrel's number will be up there in a few years." Gonzalez was referring to the announcement that former star Chipper Jones was having his number retired later this season and the speculation over whom would be next. With former Braves stars like John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux, Kimbrel has a ways to go, but he's only 24, and he said he has plenty of innings left in his arm. "I could have done more last season and I feel great now," said Kimbrel, who will be pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. "I can go one inning whenever. Everything is going great." On and off the golf course. © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


More Sports

High School Swimming

County meet chance for bragging rights, state times

All three local high school swim teams have the same agenda tonight when they return to the Summit Family YMCA for the annual Coweta County ... Read More


High School Basketball

Northgate, Heritage, Trinity girls earn big victories

In a solid night for girls basketball around the county, Northgate put together its first winning streak of the season on Tuesday, while GIS ... Read More


HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMING

Northgate, Newnan finish among top five at 29-team Tribal Challenge

East Coweta hosted its largest field in history for Saturday’s ninth-annual Tribal Challenge held at the Summit Family YMCA in Newnan ... Read More


Local high school swimmers compete

East Coweta, Newnan and Northgate swimmers competed against well over a dozen schools during Saturday’s annual Tribal Challenge Meet, ... Read More


High School Basketball

Heritage School, Northgate girls earn victories

The Heritage School wrapped up a string of three impressive victories in GISA Region play last week by thumping Griffin Christian 56-17 on t ... Read More

High School Basketball

Morrow able to double up on Northgate

When the Northgate basketball teams took the floor Friday night at home against Region 4A-AAAAA foe Morrow, they were hoping for a better ou ... Read More