Kimbrel amazed at Maddux’s ability to predict outcomes
Growing up a Braves fan, Craig Kimbrel heard about how Greg Maddux used to prove prophetic after telling former Atlanta pitching coach Leo Mazzone that he was going to throw a certain pitch to an opposing batter and then get him to hit a ball to a specific part of the field.
While pitching the ninth inning of Team USA’s 4-3 loss to Puerto Rico on Friday night at Miami’s Marlins Park, Kimbrel gained first-hand confirmations of Maddux’s ability to accurately predict outcomes.
With a man on second base and Yadier Molina on deck, Kimbrel told Maddux he had no desire to intentionally walk Carlos Beltran. Maddux, who was serving as Team USA’s pitching coach, responded by saying “Let’s throw two fastballs up and see if we can get him to pop it up.”
Beltran did his part to add to Maddux’s legend by popping Kimbrel’s first-pitch fastball to shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
“I was like you are a genius,” Kimbrel said of his reaction to Maddux after he returned to the dugout. “How did you do that? Like you knew that was going to happen. I was like you want to come out here every time and tell me where to throw it.”
Unfortunately Kimbrel’s ability to keep Puerto Rico’s ninth-inning lead to one run was not enough for Team USA to gain the victory it needed to advance to the Championship Round of the World Baseball Classic.
With his first Classic experience complete, Kimbrel returned to Braves camp in time to stretch and play catch with his teammates before Saturday night’s game against the Yankees. Because he pitched on Thursday and Friday, he likely will not return to Grapefruit League action before Monday.
“It was a great experience,” Kimbrel said. “It was cool to see how much (Team USA manager) Joe Torre really appreciated it and how much fun he had. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth how we went out. But it was still a pretty awesome experience.”
Check braves.com later today for more information about Kimbrel’s experience.