On Monday, exactly three weeks after having surgery, Kimbrel was reinstated from the disabled list.
"Everybody put a lot of work in to get me where I am," Kimbrel said upon rejoining the Red Sox for the opener of a four-game series against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. "Haven't hit a lot of speed bumps, so it's been great. I'm a little tired of watching the games on TV. Ready to get out there and help this team go."
Kimbrel threw 17 pitches Saturday for Triple-A Pawtucket in his only minor league rehab appearance, but he knew he was ready to return when he had no difficulty covering first base. Although manager John Farrell will look initially to limit Kimbrel's workload by not having him pitch too many days in a row, the right-hander will return to his closer role in a Red Sox bullpen that has been revamped just in the time that he has been out.
Recently acquired sidearmer Brad Ziegler will join fellow right-handed Junichi Tazawa as the primary setup men in the absence of Koji Uehara, who remains sidelined indefinitely with a strained right pectoral muscle. Left-handed Fernando Abad, acquired from the Minnesota Twins before Monday's trade deadline, is expected to join the team here Tuesday.
Kimbrel said he weighed his options before choosing surgery. The promise of likely being able to return after only a few weeks led him to have the procedure rather than trying to manage the pain.
"Initially, the first thought was, is there anything I can do to keep pitching," Kimbrel said. "There really wasn't anything we could do. I think we could've minimized the pain, but it might've crept up on us later in the year. That's why we decided to go ahead and have surgery."
To open a roster spot for Kimbrel, the Red Sox optioned starter turned reliever Joe Kelly to Triple-A. They will have to make another roster move Tuesday to accommodate Abad's arrival.