Medlen and Kimbrel to be part of Team USA’s pitching staff
Craig Kimbrel and Kris Medlen will replace their Braves’ jerseys with the Team USA jerseys that they hope to wear through most of March.
Kimbrel and Medlen will serve as the Braves’ only representatives on the United States team that will compete in this year’s World Baseball Classic. Both of these talented young pitchers will be making their first appearance in the Classic.
Arguably the game’s best closer, Kimbrel has been getting excited about this opportunity since the early days of December. Medlen tempered his excitement until he received a second phone call from Team USA manager Joe Torre approximately two weeks ago.
Medlen will serve as one of the four starting pitchers on Team USA’s roster. The remainder of the starting rotation includes Toronto’s R.A. Dickey, Texas’ Derek Holland and San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong.
Kimbrel undoubtedly stands as the top candidate to handle the closer duties during the Classic. Other candidates in the U.S. bullpen include Cleveland’s Chris Perez, Miami’s Steve Cishek and Arizona’s Heath Bell.
Medlen and Kimbrel will spend the first week of the Grapefruit League season with the Braves and then travel to Phoenix to prepare for First Round pool play, which will take place at Arizona’s Chase Field from March 8-10.
If it advances out of the first round, Team USA would participate in Second Round play at Marlins Park March 12-16. If the team advances, it would then be in position to participate in the Semifinals and Finals at San Francisco’s AT&T Park March 17-19.
The Braves will also have a strong presence on Torre’s coaching staff. Dale Murphy will serve as first base coach and Greg Maddux will be the club’s pitching coach.