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Craig Kimbrel ready for his 8th inning rehearsal

Rob Bradford
September 19, 2018 - 7:38 pm

NEW YORK -- Alex Cora suggested in his introductory press conference he would be using Craig Kimbrel outside the ninth inning. And he has, with the closer coming in prior to the ninth inning seven times entering Wednesday night.

But forays into the eighth have come so few and far between, it has never really seemed like there is any sort of strategy behind it. The most recent time Kimbrel saw the eighth was Aug. 26, having not pitched in the inning since July 27 before that.

Times might be changing with the postseason almost upon us.

Cora told OMF on WEEI that he sat down with Kimbrel Sunday to go through the usage plan for the final couple of weeks of the regular season. And while the closer isn't ready to talk about the blueprint --  ("We'll talk about it as we do it," he told before Wednesday night's game) -- the manager offered some explanation of what to expect.

"There’s X-amount of innings that we’re going to be using him the rest of the season. It all depends obviously on how the games go and all that," Cora said. "We also talked about how to use him in different spots so he can get used to the fact of getting up early and coming in earlier in the game.

"Obviously we don’t have control of the game, hopefully we have leads in the eighth inning and he can come in earlier just to — I hate to say it’s a rehearsal but I think as far as routine and stuff like that, although he’s always ready after the fifth inning when he gets to the bullpen like for him to go out there and use him in different spots. We talked about it in the offseason and it hasn’t happened much during the regular season. Early in the season, he was building up and then we didn’t have too many spots where that happened. People think it happens a lot. It doesn’t so we stayed with him in the ninth. But we’ve talked about it and hopefully, we can do that a few days the rest of the season and he’ll be ready to go."

For Kimbrel's comments on how he was expecting to be used for the second half of the season, click here.