PHILADELPHIA – Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons was out of the lineup Friday for a third consecutive game since straining his left shoulder, as team officials decided to err on the side of caution with the rookie standout.
“He’s going to hit [during batting practice] and field some groundballs,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said before Friday’s series opener against the Phillies. “We’ve really got our fingers crossed for [Simmons to play Saturday]. He’s progressing just like we wanted him to, and the thing that [head trainer] Jeff [Porter] wants to avoid is if he dives again, to relapse. But we’re progressing well. It’s doing good. Just being cautious.”
Simmons hurt his non-throwing shoulder while making a diving defensive stop in Monday’s game at Miami. He played the rest of the game, but the shoulder stiffened overnight and he hasn’t returned to the lineup since.
With backup shortstop Paul Janish also sidelined since dislocating his left shoulder Tuesday, versatile left fielder Martin Prado made his third consecutive start at shortstop on Friday.
Janish returned to Atlanta to have his shoulder examined by Braves orthopedist Xavier Duralde on Thursday. Gonzalez said the only update he had was that Janish would be out a minimum of two weeks and possibly three or four. He said the Braves hope he can avoid surgery and rehab the shoulder in time to be ready for potential postseason play.
Pitching announcement to come
Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell have discussed potential postseason pitching plans for the past two days, and Gonzalez said he could have an announcement this weekend regarding a possible adjustment to the rotation in order to line up his starter for an expected wild-card play-in game Oct. 5.
Gonzalez said this week that phenom Kris Medlen or veteran Tim Hudson would start that game. Hudson has the big-game experience, but the Braves have won 21 consecutive starts by Medlen, who is 8-0 with a 0.76 ERA in 10 starts since moving from the bullpen to the rotation.
“You’ve got to go with the guy you think is going to give you the best chance of winning a baseball game,” said Gonzalez, who left it at that.