S. Simmons ready after shedding shoulder issues

Reliever excited for upcoming season following injury-plagued 2014

S. Simmons ready after shedding shoulder issues

ATLANTA -- After getting a few months of rest this offseason, Shae Simmons is looking forward to the opportunity to prove that he can be the same impressive reliever that he was before right shoulder discomfort sidelined him for the final two months of the 2014 season.

Simmons has not experienced any discomfort since he began his preseason throwing exercises three weeks ago. The 24-year-old reliever will get a better feel for where he stands when he begins throwing off a mound next week.

"I haven't had any issues, so I'm kind of excited about that," Simmons said while participating in the Braves Country Caravan on Friday.

The Braves certainly have reason to be encouraged by this recent progress. If healthy, Simmons could prove to be an even better option than Jason Grilli or Jim Johnson to serve as closer Craig Kimbrel's primary setup man.

Simmons made his Major League debut on May 31, and he proceeded to post a 0.96 ERA while limiting opponents to a .239 on-base percentage through his first 20 appearances. But he started to struggle when his shoulder began bothering him in July.

Simmons was placed on the disabled list on July 29 with a right shoulder strain. He made an unsuccessful comeback attempt during a rehab stint a month later, and then he gained some more reason for concern when he experienced more shoulder soreness while working out at the club's Spring Training facility in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., after the season was complete.

With multiple evaluations showing no sign of structural damage, Simmons returned to his native Missouri to spend a few months resting his arm. Before beginning to throw a few weeks ago, he focused on strengthening his shoulder via an array of stretching exercises, including one that required him to cross a set of monkey bars.

"I gave my shoulder the rest that it needed and now I'm good," Simmons said. "Now, it's just about getting loose and getting my arm strength back."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.