Rook­ies La Stella, Sim­mons give boost to Braves

The Covington News - - SPORTS -

AT­LANTA (AP) — The Braves re­ceived a needed boost from two play­ers re­called from the mi­nors last week.

Now Tommy La Stella and Shae Sim­mons are set for their home de­buts.

At­lanta opens a two-game se­ries with Seat­tle on Tues­day night. The start­ing sec­ond base­man is ex­pected to be La Stella, who had back-to-back two-hit games in the Braves’ weekend sweep at Mi­ami.

The Braves also have a new power arm in their bullpen. Sim­mons, fresh from Dou­ble-A Mis­sis­sippi, recorded a key out on Satur­day. The right-han­der then earned his first save on Sun­day when closer Craig Kim­brel needed a rest.

Gen­eral man­ager Frank Wren said Sim­mons, 23, filled a void left with right-han­der Jordan Walden on the 15-day dis­abled list with a ham­string in­jury.

Walden “was ex­cep­tional in April,” Wren told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Mon­day. “He gives us that solid end of the game guy, to be able to bridge to Kim­brel, and we were miss­ing that. We think Sim­mons can do some of that.”

Sim­mons left Mi­ami with two game balls and valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence. He sur­vived two hits and a walk to earn the save in Sun­day’s 4-2 win over the Mar­lins.

“Now that it’s over with, I can kind of ease my mind,” Sim­mons said. “I got through my first cou­ple of ap­pear­ances OK. Hope­fully I just con­tinue to work and get bet­ter from here.”

Catcher Evan Gat­tis said Sim­mons wasn’t rat­tled in his first two pres­sure sit­u­a­tions.

“He showed good com­po­sure,” Gat­tis said. “He didn’t seem to get too shaken up. I think it was good that he was in that high-pres­sure sit­u­a­tion (Satur­day). I think that helped.”

The clutch pro­duc­tion from La Stella, 25, and Sim­mons was es­pe­cially im­por­tant af­ter the Braves lost four straight to the Red Sox. The three-game sweep of the Mar­lins kept the Braves in first place in the NL East be­fore an off day on Mon­day.

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