Before the Braves bring back rookie sensation Andrelton Simmons, he’ll have a little more time to help his old Class-A team compete for a Carolina League championship.
Simmons will be activated from the disabled list and rejoin the Braves on Monday at Milwaukee, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. Until then he’ll continue a rehab assignment with Class-A Lynchburg, which he helped win the North Division title with a solo home run in the Hillcats’ 2-1 win on Friday against Wilmington.
Simmons hit another home run Saturday when Lynchburg opened the best-of-five league championship series with a 3-1 road win against Winston-Salem, N.C. The series continues Sunday at 2 p.m.
Simmons won the Carolina League batting title with Lynchburg in 2011.
He has been on the Braves’ 15-day disabled list since breaking a bone in his throwing hand July 8 while sliding into second base in the last game before the All-Star break. Friday night’s game was the fourth in a rehab assignment that began Monday at Double-A Mississippi, then one at Class-A Rome.
In games Thursday and Friday with Lynchburg, he was 2-for-8 with a homer, two runs and a stolen base.
Gonzalez said there would be no restrictions on Simmons and he would be ready to play on a regular basis when he returns. He’s had no problems with the hand since resuming play, but the Braves wanted him to spend a week in the minor leagues to rebuild his leg strength in addition to getting back up to game speed, so they wouldn’t have to ease him back into the lineup when he returns to the majors.
In 33 major league before his injury, Simmons played the sensational defense expected by the Braves officials, but surpassed expectations offensively. He hit .296 with 11 extra-base hits (three homers), 15 RBIs and a .788 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, and went 8-for-16 with two homers in the late innings of close games. Simmons’s 23rd birthday was Tuesday.
The Braves traded for strong defensive shortstop Paul Janish after Simmons got hurt, and Janish started 38 consecutive games from July 15 through Aug. 23, and was named ESPN.com’s major league defensive player of the month for August. But Janish hit just .189 with nine RBIs and a .507 OPS in 51 games before Saturday.
In an effort to spark the offense, Gonzalez moved Martin Prado to shortstop for five starts in the past 15 games, including Friday and Saturday against the Mets. Reed Johnson and Jose Constanza have platooned in left field when Prado plays elsewhere.
Prado had played only two games at shortstop in his major league career before this season, but the versatile veteran — a former All-Star second baseman — has not looked out of place at short.
“He’s going to make the routine plays,” Gonzalez said. “I’m surprised because I don’t think he’s ever played it very much at the major league level. And even in the minor leagues he didn’t play it very much. There were some questions – from us, because we’d never seen him play. But he’s OK. We get a lead, we put Paul in there [for defense, and move Prado back to left field]. Like to leave [Prado] in the game, with his bat.”