There was a time not long ago when early arriving position players were the exception in major league baseball. That’s changed drastically in the past decade, to the point where the exceptions are now those who don’t show up until reporting day, at least with some teams including the Braves.
Andrelton Simmons showed up camp today, which means all of the Braves’ projected starters are in camp and working out in advance of Thursday’s reporting date for position players. Some of them, including Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman, have been here since last week.
Hitting coach Greg Walker stopped by Simmons’ locker this morning to tell him he was scheduled to be in the 11 a.m. hitting group on the main field, and Simmons asked if he could also hit in the covered batting cage out beyond left field before that. Walker told him 10:15 in the cage. Simmons was pleased.
Braves pitchers and catchers are going through their second official workout today, then one more Thursday before the first full-squad workout on Friday. That’s when things get fun around here, when all the Braves hitters start facing pitchers in live batting practice.
Simmons said he spent most of the offseason at home in Curacao, eating his mother’s good home-cooking – he's particularly fond of fish and okra stew – before traveling to little Altus, Okla., in January to work out with his former coaches and current players at Western Oklahoma State, the junior college where he was a standout shortstop and closer before being drafted by the Braves.
It’s going to be an eventful spring for Simmons, 23, who will play for the Dutch team in next month’s World Baseball Classic (Curacao is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands). He’ll be in Braves camp for a couple of weeks, then fly halfway around the world to Taiwan for the Dutch team’s training camp and the Pool B round March 2-5.