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The Braves aren’t sweating Craig Kimbrel’s slow start

Mar 5, 2011, 6:01 PM EDT

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It’s only the first week of March, but there are already questions about young fireballer Craig Kimbrel, someone who many expect to be closing games for the Braves this season. Or sharing the job with left-hander Jonny Venters, at the very least.

Kimbrel has made three appearances so far during exhibition action. One good, two bad. After bouncing back from a poor exhibition debut with a scoreless inning against the Red Sox on Wednesday, he gave up two runs on three hits against the Nationals yesterday. All told, he’s given up four runs and six hits over just 2 1/3 innings.

Fredi Gonzalez didn’t see Kimbrel yesterday because he was managing a split-squad team in Lake Buena Vista, but told Mark Bowman of MLB.com he isn’t worried about the young right-hander’s early struggles.

“If there is a trend like this later in the spring, then you start worrying about it,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “But not right now.”

Kimbrel, 22, turned heads by posting an impressive 0.40 ERA and 40 strikeouts over 20 2/3 innings at the major league level during the regular season in 2010. While he has electric stuff, he also averaged 5.7 BB/9 in the minor leagues and issued 16 walks during his brief time with the Braves last year.

It might be a little early to jump to conclusions about Kimbrel, but at least Gonzalez doesn’t have to worry about Venters, who has delivered three scoreless innings over his first three Grapefruit League appearances.

  1. hellmaca - Mar 6, 2011 at 1:48 AM

    Have you ever been to spring training? It’s pretty relaxed.

  2. jetersusedjersey - Mar 6, 2011 at 8:33 AM

    No real worries here. I think ST stats are way over-rated by far. Remember the year club x (insert almost any team name here) loss only 1 spring training game? They went on to loss 100 reg season games. Remeber how Nolan Ryan got lit up almost every spring training. I think his career turned out all right. You have to look at level of competion, and what a player is working on.

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