With apologies to Brian McCann, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons made himself the story Monday night.
The Braves shortstop is starting to heat up – and he used McCann’s return from shoulder surgery to show how much. Simmons homered twice for the first time in his career to lead the Braves to a 7-4 win over the Reds.
Simmons said afterward he spent some time in the batting cage with Justin Upton during the Braves’ rainout on Saturday. It showed.
“We hit for quite a bit that day and it really helped,” said Simmons, who now has four home runs to Upton’s majors’ leading 12. “…I’m right where I want to be.”
Simmons hit a solo shot off Bronson Arroyo in the second inning and came back with a two-run job off reliever Logan Ondrusek in the eighth. His four RBIs – all from the eighth spot in the order - were a career high, as were his three hits, which he did for the sixth time.
Simmons has six multi-hit games in his past 14 to raise his season average from .185 to .252.
“I think when it’s all said and done after this year, we’re going to be talking about him as one of the top shortstops in baseball,” said McCann, who didn’t mind sharing the spotlight. “We’ve had some unbelievable shortstops here since I’ve been here with (Rafael) Furcal, (Edgar) Renteria, and Alex Gonzalez, and he’s right there with all of them.”
Simmons played his usual dynamic shortstop, where he has yet to commit an error in his first 127 chances over 29 games. He applied a tag on Shin-Soo Choo from between the legs to complete a pickoff play and end the seventh.