Craig Kimbrel throws, says his shoulder feels “great”

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Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was unavailable to pitch on Monday because of soreness in his right shoulder. But it’s apparently only a minor thing.

According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the right-hander threw a 15-pitch bullpen session on Wednesday afternoon and declared himself “ready” to return to action. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was noncommittal about using Kimbrel on Wednesday night in Philadelphia because the local forecast calls for near-freezing temperatures, but he should be a go for Thursday.

“I threw today, ramped it up to see what it felt like, and it felt great,” Kimbrel told the Journal-Constitution on Wednesday. “So it’s exciting. I’m ready to get back out there in a save situation.”

The 25-year-old has a ridiculous 1.39 career ERA and 15.2 career K/9 in 233 major league innings.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.