Shortstop knocks in four runs; Braves' big offseason acquisition goes 2-for-3
By Mark Bowman & Brian McTaggart
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Andrelton Simmons drove in four runs, including an RBI single with the bases loaded in the first inning and added a two-run double in the third, to send the Braves to an early five-run lead and a 14-10 victory over the Astros on Monday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.
Astros starter Scott Feldman struggled in his three innings of work, allowing seven hits, five runs and two walks in three innings. He allowed two runs in the first, stranding the bases loaded, and worked a 1-2-3 second before the Braves tagged him with three runs in the fifth.
Evan Gattis, the former Braves slugger who was playing in his first game in 10 days because of left wrist soreness, clubbed his first homer of the spring in the third inning, a two-run shot off left-hander James Russell.
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Gattis gets going: The Astros acquired Gattis from the Braves for his bat, and the burly slugger provided his first homer of the spring when he crushed the first pitch from Russell and sent it over the left-field wall with two outs in the third for a two-run homer. He was in the lineup at designated hitter for the Braves, who traded Gattis to Houston in January.
Markakis debuts: Playing for the first time since undergoing neck surgery in December, Braves right fielder Nick Markakis recorded a pair of hits in three plate appearances. Markakis, who served as a designated hitter, began the three-run third inning with a double off the right-center-field wall.
Feldman struggles: Feldman struggled with his control in his third start of the spring, allowing seven hits, five runs and two walks in three innings. It was his first Grapefruit League outing since March 13, when he gave up four hits and three runs in three innings against the Nats. He had pitched in a Minor League game on Wednesday, but has allowed nine earned runs in eight innings in Grapefruit League play.
Foltynewicz scratched: The Braves were looking forward to seeing how Mike Foltynewicz harnessed his emotions while facing his former organization for the first time since being included in the Gattis deal. But they opted to scratch their top pitching prospect because the mound was wet and the forecast indicated heavy rain would fall during the early innings.
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Big numbers: Led by the three-hit performances notched by Eric Young Jr. and Zoilo Almonte, the Braves recorded 18 hits through the first five innings. They have totaled 18 hits in just three regular-season games over the past five seasons.
"I feel like I had never pitched before. It was the weirdest thing. You don't want to have bad body language, but I could feel myself out there and felt like my head was going to explode. I had no idea where I was throwing the ball. It was really annoying," -- Feldman on his outing
Peterson returns: Braves infielder Jace Peterson is expected to return to the lineup on Tuesday. Peterson has not started a game since he was stepped on while making a play at second base against the Cardinals on Saturday. He entered Monday's game in the fifth inning.
Peacock pushed back: Astros right-hander Brad Peacock was scheduled to pitch two innings in a Minor League game on Monday, but he was pushed back a day because of rain. He's building up his pitch count as he works his way back from offseason hip surgery. … Left-hander Brett Oberholtzer could pitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday as he recovers from a mild lat strain and illness.
Simmons makes precautionary exit: Simmons exited the game after getting hit just above the left elbow with a Jake Buchanan offspeed pitch in the fourth inning. The Braves' shortstop experienced some initial swelling and stiffness, but revealed he was fine after applying ice to the bruised region. He said he hopes to resume playing on Tuesday.
Astros: Right-hander Collin McHugh looks to build on his pitch count when he takes the ball for the Astros against the Mets in Port St. Lucie at 12:10 p.m. CT on Tuesday. Pat Neshek, Kevin Chapman and Luke Gregerson are also on the list of potential pitchers.
Braves: Markakis is expected to be back in the lineup when the Braves host the Phillies on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Foltynewicz will start, followed by Manny Banuelos.