Emotional Craig Kimbrel rejoins Red Sox, details daughter's frightening medical ordeal

Craig Kimbrel
Photo credit David Kohl/USA Today Sports

Here's all that matters to Craig Kimbrel: doctors believe his daughter, Lydia, is going to be OK.

For the last four and a half months, Kimbrel and his wife, Ashley, have lived every parents' nightmare after their daughter was born with a heart defect that has already required two surgeries, with one more to go.

On Monday, an emotional Kimbrel rejoined the Red Sox in Florida after spending the last three weeks in Boston at Children's Hospital as his daughter sought treatment.

"There's no denying it's been the toughest thing we've ever been through," Kimbrel said. "We've been in the right place. I can't say enough about how amazing Boston Children's Hospital has been, the nurses, the doctors, they've been absolutely amazing in helping us through this process and helping more with me and Ashley, because we know Lydia is taken care of. They've been absolutely amazing.

"In the last week, her recovery has been unbelievable and she's showing great signs and we're very blessed and we want to thank the Red Sox and Alex (Cora) for understanding they've been through this and working with us. It's been tough, I can say that. We're definitely, me and my wife, we've had each other and we've had our family, we've had a great support. Everyone is sending out prayers that have definitely been heard. Now I'm back down here. The other day I threw a live BP up at Babson, and me and her got to talking and seeing where Lydia is, and how she's progressed, she's in a good, comfortable place for me to be down here. If she wasn't, I wouldn't be here."

Kimbrel said his daughter should be home in a couple of weeks, though she's not out of the woods yet. She'll need a third surgery around age 3 or 4 to "straighten up her anatomy so she can grow as a normal child."

Kimbrel believes he's ready to go and certainly will be ready for the opener next week in Tampa. In the meantime, he has priorities clearly defined.

"It's a job, but it's something I've done my whole life," he said. "It's definitely a job. My family comes first and then baseball comes. I have to thank the Red Sox for letting me be there with my family and then helping me continue to prepare while I was at home. Stepping away for a few hours was definitely a release. It did help to get in the weight room. It did help to throw the ball. But that's not going to take away the emotions we went through in the hospital."

So what does the future hold for his daughter? Kimbrel is thankful to be raising her in Boston, where she can receive world-class treatment.

"My wife and I talk about it all the time," he said. "We're very strong in our faith. We believe that everything in life happens for a reason, even if we don't understand it at the time. There's a lesson to be learned and something to be shared through every step you go through in life. As difficult as this is, and I know it will take time, hopefully this experience and everything we've been through, we can share that with others, try to impact someone else's life. Because I know for a fact my daughter's going to be able to do that one day."