FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Though the ninth inning will still be the time Red Sox right-hander Craig Kimbrel is called on most often, the dominant closer sounded open to manager Alex Cora's idea of deploying him in higher-leverage situations earlier in the game when needed."Potentially, I think I'll be used
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Though the ninth inning will still be the time Red Sox right-hander Craig Kimbrel is called on most often, the dominant closer sounded open to manager Alex Cora's idea of deploying him in higher-leverage situations earlier in the game when needed.
"Potentially, I think I'll be used in positions I need to be used in," said Kimbrel. "I think I'll be closing out a lot of games and getting us out of some tough spots when needed to."
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There was some thought that Kimbrel, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the 2018 season, would be hesitant about giving up some save opportunities. Cora is pretty sure it will work out in a fashion that keeps everyone on board.
"People think it's a big adjustment. If you start looking at the numbers, you don't lose too many saves if it's the way you want to use him," said Cora. "We're not talking about the lower third of the lineup. We're talking the middle of the lineup, eighth inning, certain situations. What I feel is 'game on the line.' Game on the line for you might be different for me, the way you think. We'll sit down and talk about it, and he'll understand where we're coming from. And as long as he's healthy he'll do it."
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As far as free agency goes, Kimbrel is open to re-signing with the Red Sox, the team he was traded to in November 2015.
"I'd like to. I've enjoyed my time here in Boston," Kimbrel said. "Been a part of two winning teams and hopefully three after this year. You never know where life is going to take you. I learned that a lot this offseason in dealing with my daughter."
As Kimbrel discussed at Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods last month, his daughter, Lydia Joy, who was born on Nov. 3, has heart defects. She had surgery at four days old and will have another one later this month, at which point Kimbrel will return to Boston for a week.
"She's doing great," said Kimbrel. "Doctors have been amazing. They've been very encouraging. And she's growing fine. So it's tough to be away, especially being so hands-on, but there's a plan for everything and you can't change it. Just have to take it for what it is."
The situation with Kimbrel's daughter has given him a new perspective on baseball issues like free agency or what part of the game he pitches in.
"So I'm just going to take each day for what it is. If we're talking about if I'm coming back here next year or if I'm going somewhere else, I mean, next year is really the time to talk about that," Kimbrel said. "Like I said, right now I'm a Boston Red Sox and I'm happy to be a Boston Red Sox, and I'm looking forward to this year."
Pedroia on leadership
With last season his first without David Ortiz, a reflective Dustin Pedroia said Saturday that he might have tried to take on too much of a leadership role. As a member of World Series championship teams in 2007 and '13, Pedroia noted that the best teams he played on had many leaders. Pedroia took it upon himself to draw out more leadership from his younger teammates.
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"I need them and they need me, and we all have to work together. Because it's not one leader," Pedroia said. "And everybody always says that it's not one guy in baseball. It's me, it's Mookie, it's Bogey, it's Jackie, it's Benny. It's our team. So we have to go be together and know that.
"I know David's gone, but you know when [Jason Varitek] was done, we were OK. Because he built that into David, and David's built that into me to where I got to do a better job of finding a way to get everybody to realize that it's not one guy, it's everybody. And that's -- after thinking about it -- that's what it is. It's not, you know, we need one leader or one guy on the pitching staff and one guy on the … No, we need everybody. And that's what it takes to win at this level and in this environment, is for everybody to come together and take responsibility and doing it together."
Cora on start times
While other teams are working out later this Spring Training to give their players more rest, the Red Sox have been the field each day at a more traditional time of 10 a.m. Before that, players are in the cages or in meetings.
"If we start at 11 [a.m.], you're there until 1 [p.m.] and at noon, that sun is tough out there," Cora said. "I don't know how it works with other teams. But [our] players show up early. We've got guys here at 6:30. Sometimes we wonder if we should push it earlier, because everybody is here and we have all these meetings, we have to go through stuff, but most of the time everybody is ready at 8:45."
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.