Kimbrel returns to Wrigley for 1st time with White Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
Forty-two times from 2019-21, Craig Kimbrel jogged out to the Wrigley Field mound from the bullpen as Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine" blared in the background.
Cubs manager David Ross hopes he can stop the music this weekend.
“Hopefully he's not running out there,” said Ross, smiling, of Kimbrel, his former closer now with the White Sox.
“It would be nice to keep them on the shelf for three days.”
Kimbrel returned to Wrigley on Friday a week to the day after the Cubs traded him to their crosstown rivals for reliever Codi Heuer and infielder Nick Madrigal.
“My drive was a little closer this morning, which was nice,” Kimbrel said.
When he hit the field for pregame warmups, he ran past his new Sox teammates in the Wrigley outfield, reuniting with some of his former Cubs bullpen mates.
Kimbrel and Ross haven’t had the chance to catch up yet, although both said they expect to this weekend.
Cubs fans didn’t get to give Kimbrel a farewell sendoff before the trade. His last appearance in the blue pinstripes came July 26, four days before the trade.
As of hours before Friday's game, everyone’s played nice, Kimbrel said.
“We’ll see when we get closer to game time,” he quipped.
Ross knows as well as anybody what Kimbrel brings to the table. Before managing him the last two seasons, he caught him when they were teammates with the Braves.
“I've watched how good it is,” Ross said. “I've caught how good it is. I've watched how good it can be.
“I don't like seeing it on the other side, but I'm happy he's in a spot to continue to compete.”
There’s a good chance Kimbrel gets into a game this weekend. But will the Cubs play his walk-out music as a tip of the cap?
“That’s not up to me,” he said, seeming to smile. “I’m just running in to do my job.”