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Kimbrel declines Red Sox's ring ceremony invite

@IanMBrowne
April 8, 2019

BOSTON -- Former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel respectfully declined to take part in the team’s official World Series ring ceremony on Tuesday, team president/CEO Sam Kennedy confirmed. Kimbrel remains a free agent and the Red Sox have stated numerous times they don’t expect to re-sign him. “While he really

BOSTON -- Former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel respectfully declined to take part in the team’s official World Series ring ceremony on Tuesday, team president/CEO Sam Kennedy confirmed.

Kimbrel remains a free agent and the Red Sox have stated numerous times they don’t expect to re-sign him.

“While he really appreciated our invite and outreach, he feels his attendance might create a distraction,” Kennedy said. “Out of respect for his teammates, he has chosen to not attend. While disappointed, we totally respect and understand his decision.”

WEEI.com was first to report the news that Kimbrel declined an invitation to take part in the celebration to commemorate the championship the Red Sox won on Oct. 28, 2018.

With Tuesday's game against the Blue Jays, Boston will be the last MLB team to stage its home opener, and the ring ceremony will take place before the game’s 2:05 p.m. ET first pitch.

The pregame ceremonies will also include the unveiling of the 2018 championship banner, the raising of the 2018 championship flag, the performance of the national anthem, a fly-over, the ceremonial first pitch, and the call to “Play Ball.”

The Super Bowl champion Patriots will also be recognized in some fashion for bringing home their sixth trophy in the last 18 years. Tight end Rob Gronkowski, who recently announced his retirement, is expected to be on hand.

The Hanscom Air Force Base military will line the length of the Green Monster wall as the American flag drops for the anthem. Musicians of the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, led by Keith Lockhart, will perform both the Canadian and American national anthems.

Maintaining a longtime home opener tradition, the anthem will be punctuated by a fly-over of four F-16 jets from the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard.

The singing of God Bless America in the middle of the seventh inning will be performed by Springfield, Mass., native Michelle Brooks Thompson.

In honor of the 2018 championship, players will wear special gold-trimmed Red Sox hats and jerseys with gold stitching around the World Series championship patch on the hat and left sleeve of the jersey, and around the letters and numbers on the front and back of the jersey.

As for Kimbrel, he helped the Red Sox capture their fourth World Series title in the last 15 years as their bullpen ace, racking up 42 saves and posting a 2.74 ERA over 63 regular season appearances before saving six more wins during the postseason. He ranked among the game’s very best closers over his three-year tenure in Boston, with 108 saves, a 2.44 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings.

Kimbrel rejected the Red Sox’s one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer last November and he remains one of the highest-profile free agents on the market, alongside left-handed starter Dallas Keuchel.

The Red Sox are using a committee approach to their bullpen this season, with Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes collecting the save opportunities thus far.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.