There are times when Andrelton Simmons makes it easy to forget he had just 49 games in the majors before this season. Times when the Braves shortstop looks like the savviest player as well as the best defender on the field.
But the 23-year-old Curacao native is not immune to struggles and there have been a few games lately when he’s slightly resembled a kid who had not played above Double-A until 55 weeks ago, which is what he is.
Simmons has made his usual bevy of spectacular plays this season, but made some uncharacteristic mistakes, too. He went 4-for-5 in a game at Cincinnati on May 8 to raise his average to .276, but since then, he hit .221 in his past 34 games before Monday, with one homer, a .245 on-base percentage, and — believe it or not — more errors (six) than walks (five).
He made twice as many errors (six) during a 21-game stretch from May 24 through Saturday as he made in his entire rookie season. Those six errors came after not making a single error in the Braves’ first 46 games, the last major league shortstop to make his first error this season.
Simmons can’t put a finger on anything that’s contributed to the recent spate of miscues. He takes more pride in defense than anything, but said the errors were a bit easier to take because they hadn’t been costly for the team.
“At least we’re still winning every time I make an error,” Simmons said and he’s correct: The Braves won all five games in which he made an error, including his two-error game.
“To be honest, if it doesn’t cause a run, it doesn’t hurt as bad,” he said. “And especially if we win, I don’t care.”
Rasmus is 26th man: It’s been just three weeks since Cory Rasmus was sent back to Triple-A a bit shell-shocked after getting hit hard in both of his first two major league relief appearances. But the right-hander is eager for another opportunity to face big-league hitters.
Rasmus could get it after being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett as the Braves’ 26th man for Tuesday’s split doubleheader with the Mets at Turner Field. He gave up five hits, five runs and three walks in 3 2/3 innings against Minnesota on May 22 and at Toronto on May 27.
“I feel way more confident now,” said Rasmus, who was notified of the call-up late Sunday and reported to Turner Field on Monday. “Before I was more nervous, and I guess you could say a little bit scared, to see what was going to happen. Now I feel a lot more relaxed and I’m like, you know what, I’m going to go out here and make some things happen.”
Under the 26th-man rule that went into effect last season, teams can add an extra player for a split doubleheader. The roster must be reduced to 25 players again after the doubleheader.
The Braves added Rasmus, since he was already on the 40-man roster and got some major league experience last month. He gave up three homers in two games in his first stint with the Braves, three times as many as he’s allowed in Triple-A.
A native of Phenix City, Ala., and younger brother of Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus, Cory said he needs to be himself and trust his talent. He has a 1.44 ERA, seven saves and 30 strikeouts in 25 innings this season in Triple-A.
“I feel a lot more confident,” he said. “So hopefully I’ll see some better results.”
Freeman’s home work: First baseman Freddie Freeman had three hits, including a first-inning RBI single, in Sunday’s 3-0 win against the Giants, giving him a .333 average with five homers and 28 RBIs in 28 home games, which is tied for second in the NL in home RBIs. He matched the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, who had 28 home-game RBIs in 134 at-bats to Freeman’s 108 home at-bats. Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez was the NL leader with 35 home RBIs in 148 at-bats.
Freeman, batting .320 overall, had a .370 average with four homers and 20 RBIs in his past 23 games before Monday and his .456 average with runners in scoring position ranked third in the majors and second in the NL, just behind the Cardinals’ Carlos Beltran (.460). Freeman also ranked among NL leaders with a team-high seven game-winning RBIs.