It has been a different Spring Training for Kimbrel, who spent three weeks in Boston with his daughter Lydia Joy as she recovered from heart surgery.
"He was good. The ball was cutting. I'm just happy he was out there competing," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "For everything that they're going through, for him to be out there and be on the big league field and pitching, that's good."
Kimbrel got back to camp a week ago and caught up by throwing live batting practice and getting some action in Minors games. He was also throwing regularly while in Boston.
The Red Sox are leaving it open-ended whether he pitches one more exhibition game against the Cubs on Tuesday. Either way, Kimbrel will be in the bullpen and ready to close on Thursday, when the Red Sox open their season against the Rays.
"It was good to get back out there and get in a game and throw my pitches up there and see how they were working and see how everything was coming out," Kimbrel said. "I wouldn't say [I was] as sharp as I'd want to be, but that's going to come in time. My ball had some movement to it. I had a little bit of weak contact and strong contact out there. Overall, I was pretty much throwing where I wanted to, so I was happy with that."
A day after the scare of being hit by a line drive in the first inning of his final start of Spring Training, Red Sox ace Chris Sale reported no ill effects on Sunday and he's on track to start Opening Day on Thursday.
"He's fine. He was here early. Long toss today, probably an aggressive bullpen tomorrow and ready to roll on Thursday," said Cora. "He's good. He's ready to roll."
It's hard to remember now that Red Sox leadoff man Mookie Betts started Spring Training by going 0-for-16.
The right fielder bashed two homers, scored three times and had three RBIs on Sunday. He is hitting .340 in Spring Training.
"Instant offense," said Cora. "He's been working a lot. Sometimes he's in between what he wants to do as far as being aggressive and all that, but he's a good player. It seems like he's getting locked in."
"Got a couple of days left. I'm in a good spot so I'm just going to stay where I'm at," said Betts.
The Red Sox should have their roster decided by Monday. The only decision that seems to be pending is who will round out the rotation. Four spots are occupied by Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello and Brian Johnson. Hector Velazquez is competing with Marcus Walden and Justin Haley for the open spot, which is open because Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez are opening the season on the disabled list and Steven Wright is suspended for the first 15 games.
The position-player roster is now set, with first baseman Sam Travis being optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket after Sunday's game. Travis led the Red Sox in homers (six) and RBIs (17) this spring. The Red Sox already have Hanley Ramirez and Mitch Moreland at first, so there was currently no path for Travis in the big leagues. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said earlier this weekend he plans on keeping Travis in the organization rather than trading him.
For the first time since 1965, the Red Sox and Cubs will play against each other in exhibition games. The two-game series starts Monday night (6:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV) at JetBlue Park. And the pitching matchup is a good one, pitting Porcello against Yu Darvish. The clubs will also play at 1:05 p.m. game on Tuesday. It is a convenient arrangement for both teams, as the Red Sox open their season at Tampa Bay and the Cubs start at Miami.