FORT MYERS — There’s a lot weighing on Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel.

His daughter, Lydia Joy, was born in November with heart defects that he’s chosen not to specify publicly. She’s needed multiple surgeries and will need another at the end of this month, which will cause Kimbrel to step away from spring training for some time.

Kimbrel fought back emotions when talking about Lydia Joy Saturday at JetBlue Park.

“I mean I love baseball,” he said. “I love my family, but I also love baseball. … I’m here to work. I’m here to focus. I’m here to get better. But when I leave the ballpark, my heart and mind are definitely at home. God gave me this ability to be able to hopefully change other people’s lives and change my own family’s life. It is tough. But God has a plan for us and (we) have to trust him.

“Things are going good. I can be very grateful for that.”

Kimbrel’s contract is up after this season, and he has a chance to enter free agency at 30 years old while holding the best ERA in MLB history. He’ll enter this season with a 1.80 ERA.

“I’d like to (stay with the Red Sox),” he said. “I’ve enjoyed my time here in Boston. Been a part of two winning teams and hopefully three after this year. You never know where life is going to take you. I learned that a lot this offseason in dealing with my daughter. So I’m just going to take each day for what it is.”

Still looking for work this spring are over 100 free agents. Kimbrel is keeping an eye on what happens.

“It’s definitely something that’s raised the eyebrows of a lot of guys,” he said. “Honestly I think it might be a good thing, too. For guys to get a better understanding of how this business works. To see it firsthand and to understand it and knowing a lot of guys who are without jobs and knowing how good of players they are.

“I think sometimes you take a step back and you pay attention to the things and details that are going on. I think it’s definitely brought the awareness to a lot of guys. Guys start thinking and talking about things a lot more which can be a good thing as well.”

Kimbrel shouldn’t have to worry. The relief market was the one that moved quickly in the offseason.

Wade Davis, 32, received a three-year, $52 million deal from the Colorado Rockies and Brandon Morrow, 33, signed for two years, $22 million with the Chicago Cubs. Both relievers are older, have concerning injury histories and lack the pedigree of Kimbrel.

“I think, if he looks at the market, what happened this year with relievers, he’s in a good place,” Red Sox Manager Alex Cora said.

The final piece of the puzzle for Kimbrel: How will his new manager use him?

Cora made headlines this winter when he said he’d like to use Kimbrel in a more versatile role to get the most out of the flame-throwing right-hander.

Kimbrel said in January he would be open to having a conversation about it.

Saturday, Cora explained exactly what he was talking about.

“People think it’s a big adjustment,” Cora said. “But if you start looking at the numbers you don’t lose too many saves if it’s the way you want to use him. We’re not talking about the lower third of the lineup. We’re talking the middle of the lineup, eighth inning, certain situations – what I feel is game on the line.

“We’ll sit down and talk about it and he’ll understand where we’re coming from. And as long as he’s healthy he’ll do it.”

Even without knowing specifics, Kimbrel seems to be coming around to Cora’s thinking.

“I think I’ll be used in positions I need to be used in,” Kimbrel said. “I think I’ll be closing out a lot of games and getting us out of some tough spots when needed to.”

Kimbrel’s average velocity has climbed each year, and last season he came in at 99 mph. He also finished with a 1.43 ERA and a 9.00 strikeout-to-walk rate, the best of his career.

Another season like that and the Red Sox might have to make history if they want to lock up Kimbrel to a long-term deal.

Especially if he proves he can pitch in any role.

“I think in ’16 I came in and struggled in (non-save situations), then last year I kind of turned it around,” Kimbrel said. “There’s always going to be non-save situations. At home there’s not always going to be a save situation. It’s a pretty stat but at the end of the day it’s about winning and losing games.”

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