Baseball will take a backseat for Craig Kimbrel this week and for very good reason.
The Boston Red Sox closer has left the team’s spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla., traveling back to Boston for his infant daughter’s surgery.
Kimbrel’s daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with a heart defect and underwent a medical procedure just a few days after she was born. That procedure went well, but Kimbrel noted in January that Lydia Joy would need a second surgery in spring training, which is scheduled for this week at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Kimbrel was granted leave to be with his daughter and wife, Ashley. It’s unclear when he’ll return to the club.
“I love baseball, but I also love my family,” Kimbrel said Tuesday, via The Associated Press. “I’m here to work. I’m here to focus and try to get better. When I leave the ballpark, my heart and my mind are definitely at home.”
“The doctors have been amazing, very encouraging,” Kimbrel added. “There’s a plan for everything. You want to be there and do everything you can, but you have to step back and trust the doctors and we’re doing what we can.”
Manager Alex Cora confirmed there’s no timetable for Kimbrel to rejoin the team in Fort Myers.
“Whatever it takes. That’s more important than us,” Cora said after Tuesday night’s spring training game against the Minnesota Twins, via MassLive.com. “You guys know how I feel about my family, so whatever he needs, he’ll get, and we know he’ll be ready for the season.”
Kimbrel has yet to pitch for the Red Sox in 2018 through five spring training games.