WASHINGTON (AP) - Andrelton Simmons' major league debut was put off for at least one day after rain postponed Friday night's game between Atlanta and the Washington Nationals.
The shortstop was the Braves' second-round choice in the 2010 draft and had his contract purchased from Double-A Mississippi on Thursday. The native of Curacao will be replacing Tyler Pastornicky.
Pastornicky, who beat out Simmons for the starting shortstop job in spring training was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. He was batting .248 with a home run and 12 RBIs, but was 2 for his last 22 and his defense had slipped. Pastornicky made seven errors and lots of mental miscues, too.
The 22-year-old Simmons was slowed in the spring by a strained oblique muscle, which cost him any possible chance to unseat Pastornicky. A 5-for-36 end to the spring didn't help.
Simmons was told on Wednesday night in Jackson, Miss., that he would be coming to the nation's capital to make his debut against Stephen Strasburg.
``That's what we all hope for,' Simmons said. ``First game here. Hopefully, a lot more to come.'
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez was happy to add Simmons, who was batting .292 with three home runs and 21 RBIs at Mississippi.
``He's playing great. He's playing great defense. He's swinging the bat. So he's telling us that he's ready to move up,' Gonzalez said.
The Braves have a lot invested in Simmons, who was the organization's minor league player of the year in 2011 with a .311 average at Class A Lynchburg.
Gonzalez thinks Simmons could become a long-term solution for Atlanta at shortstop.
``Let's not put the cart before the horse. I think if everything goes right and we know what we're seeing, yeah, you may see this guy here for a very long time,' Gonzalez said.
Simmons' manager in Mississippi, Aaron Holbert, sought him out in a restaurant near his team's ballpark after a rainout on Wednesday.
``He extended his hand and his said: 'Congratulations. You're moving up.' I said 'Really?' I didn't believe him because he messes around a lot. I didn't believe at first. I told him he had to show me. Then he showed me a message, so I was like: 'It's real. It's real.''
He'll have lots of fans back home in Curacao watching on TV - whenever the debut comes.
``I have a lot of people on Facebook writing stuff, telling me congrats and good luck. They're going to be watching. I guess a lot of people are waiting to see me play,' Simmons said.
Gonzalez is skipping Mike Minor's turn. The left-hander, who is 0-3 with a 9.08 ERA in his last seven starts, was scheduled to pitch Friday. He's now scheduled for next Thursday in Miami and will be available to pitch in the bullpen over the weekend. Right-hander Brandon Beachy will start against Strasburg on Saturday.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved