Kimball said it’s “tough” to leave Nationals

Right-handed reliever Cole Kimball was claimed off waivers Wednesday by the Toronto Blue Jays, ending his tenure with the Nationals after only 12 big league games.

Kimball made a quick rise to the Nationals early last season before a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder shut down his year. He finished with 14 innings, 1-0 record and a 1.93 ERA, including 11 strikeouts.

So when Kimball received the call Wednesday morning, he understood it was a business move, but that did not make it any easier.

“The Nats had to make some spots on the 40-man. After the surgery, it’s a move that you could probably see was going to be made,” he said.

Kimball said he has fond memories for the team that drafted him in 2006 and he is also excited about the new opportunity with Toronto.

“I will remember all the ties I have to Washington, all my ties with the people in the organization I was blessed to meet,” Kimball said. “It will be sad to leave them.

“My debut was a great memory, also getting a win and a pie in the face from (John) Lannan. Every one of those guys was huge, they are all cool.

“Then on the other side, I am very happy that someone wanted me out there. It is always a gamble to put a guy through waivers.”

Kimball updated his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery and said he is right on schedule.

“I feel awesome,” Kimball said. “I will be able to start playing catch in about a month and a half. I have been rehabbing well, gaining strength back and getting in great shape.

“The doctor said at the outset it would take one year to be 100 percent. I feel like I am ahead of the curve. But I am not going to rush it. I want to get healthy.”

The 26-year-old believes 2012 could be a big step - when he is injury-free at the top level.

“Next year is going to be a big year for me because it will be the first year in the big leagues where I will be 100 percent healthy,” Kimball said. “I have been 100 percent in the Arizona Fall League and Double-A, but never yet in the big leagues.”

But looking back, Kimball said he will miss all the players and coaches in the Nationals system.

“The guys and coaches are all stand-up guys,” he said. “It is family I am leaving right now. It is tough.”

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