Wagner voices admiration for dominating Kimbrel
WASHINGTON -- As Billy Wagner concluded his career with Atlanta in 2010, he was introduced to a hard-throwing young prospect named Craig Kimbrel, who at the time was referred to as the right-handed Billy Wagner.
Three years later, Wagner finds himself as just one of the many Braves fans who have enjoyed watching Kimbrel develop into one of the game's elite closers.
"He's doing so well," Wagner said. "He's going out and he knows what he's trying to do. He competes well and he holds himself with a heightened awareness. I told him it's like looking at myself in the mirror. I sit there and think, 'I wish I was that good.' He's fun to watch. He handles himself so well."
Wagner reconnected with Kimbrel and some of his other former Atlanta teammates when he visited the Braves' clubhouse before Tuesday night's game against the Nationals at Nationals Park. The former closer is the head baseball coach at the Miller School of Albemarle and enjoying the retirement life at his home in Crozet, Va.
Sticking with the childhood tradition he developed with his grandparents, Wagner said he still tries to watch the Braves as much as possible.
"I've been a Braves fan since I was a little towhead," Wagner said. "Nothing has changed. We don't watch anything else."
Wagner recently completed an autobiography titled "Way Out" with the help of Patty Rasmussen. The book, which will be available for purchase on Sept. 3, provides a look back at the experiences that helped mold him as he escaped the obscurity of his rural Virginia hometown and became one of five Major League pitchers to record at least 400 saves.
"I've accomplished so much in my life and I thought it would be nice to share it," Wagner said. "It's not a tell-all, but it was written to [inspire] kids and show them what dedication, hard work and going out and putting it on the line every day can do for you."