Closer Craig Kimbrel made his Cubs debut on Thursday afternoon as manager Joe Maddon called upon him to protect a 9-7 lead in the ninth inning against the Braves. Kimbrel struck out Brian McCann looking and induced a ground out from Johan Camargo for two quick outs. After Ronald Acuña Jr. doubled, Kimbrel walked Dansby Swanson to put the tying run on base. Kimbrel saw his way out of trouble when Freddie Freeman grounded out to Anthony Rizzo down the first base line. Kimbrel was slow to cover the first base bag, so Rizzo had to dive to touch the base before Freeman.
The Cubs and Kimbrel agreed to a three-year, $43 million contract earlier this month. No one bit on Kimbrel as a free agent during the offseason, purportedly due to his struggles during the 2018 postseason with the Red Sox as well as his age and slightly declining velocity. Kimbrel’s first pitch on Thursday registered at 97.6 MPH, according to Statcast. He averaged 96.5 MPH on his fastball overall against the Braves today. That number should rise as he gets some more games under his belt.
CLEARWATER, Fla. — Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins needs surgery for a torn ACL after injuring his left knee Thursday fielding a grounder in a spring training game and is expected to miss a significant amount of time.
The Phillies did not say when Hoskins would have the surgery or exactly how long the slugging first baseman might be sidelined.
Hoskins hit 30 homers with 79 RBIs last season for the reigning National League champions.
He was backing up to play a chopper on Thursday when the ball popped out of his glove. Sooner after, he fell to the ground and began clutching his left knee. Teammates gathered around him before he was taken off of the field.
Hoskins, a free agent at the end of the season who turned 30 last week, hit six homers in Philadelphia’s playoff run last season. The Phillies lost to the Houston Astros in the World Series.
The injury was another blow for the Phillies, who will be without top pitching prospect Andrew Painter for another few weeks because of a sprained ligament in his right elbow. And slugger Bryce Harper isn’t expected back until around the All-Star break after undergoing Tommy John surgery in November.