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

Local Racing

Armisteads celebrate Father's Day weekend with wins

Joe Armistead, Jr. and son Joey celebrated Father's Day early last week as the father/ son duo won their respective divisions racing action ... Read More


Thursday Thunder

Johnson gets first win of year in Masters Division

Senioa driver Tina Johnson raced to the checkered flag at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Thursday Thunder's Masters/ Pro Division this week. John ... Read More


Newnan's Williams commits to Marshall

Newnan High 6-foot-9 center Jannson Williams still has one more season to play with the Cougars, but the All-County selection has taken the ... Read More


Basketball

Former Indian Madarious Gibbs showcasing skills in China

Former East Coweta standout Madarious Gibbs is using his basketball talents to see the world this summer. Although Gibbs finished his colleg ... Read More


Annual Mission Trip to Mexico

Baseball4Christ team stays undefeated

Baseball4Christ rolled to a victory Wednesday against the Chinkindzonot Giants and stayed unbeaten with their third victory against opponent ... Read More

Track & Field

Quintessentials head to AAU Regionals

It shaping up to be a successful summer for the Quintessentials youth track and field Team based in Coweta County. The AAU squad was started ... Read More