Gonzalez calls shortstop a 'special, special guy'; NL reserves revealed Monday
By Carlos Collazo
ATLANTA -- In Friday night's 2-1 win over the Phillies, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons did something amazing in the field. Again.
It's become a routine sight at Turner Field over the past 3 1/2 seasons. So routine in fact, that Simmons' throw to second from deep in the outfield foul territory to gun down Cameron Rupp went largely unnoticed.
"On the way home last night I'm thinking, 'Man, that's a hell of a play,'" Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Saturday. "You just take it for granted.
"I didn't even congratulate him. [Bench coach] Carlos [Tosca] says to me in the dugout, 'Who threw that ball in?'"
"Simmons," Gonzalez said.
"Simmons?" Tosca asked, "How did he get there?"
"I don't know," Gonzalez responded.
The play proved to be critical in a one-run game, as Simmons' throw erased what was initially a leadoff double from Rupp. And the fact that Simmons is one of the few players in the game who would have been in the position to make the play in the first place emphasizes his value to Atlanta.
"There's not another shortstop that even goes after that ball," Gonzalez said. "Special, special guy.
"He's got the hands, the feet, the arm. He's got the instinct, the clock and he's got that trait that the play's never over."
And while Simmons is dripping with accolades and praise for his defense -- he's a two-time Gold Glove winner and 2013 Platinum Glove winner -- he is still waiting on his first All-Star Game, despite the fact he's largely been considered baseball's best defensive shortstop since his first full season in 2013.
A career batting average of .254 has likely hurt him in the eyes of All-Star voters, but Gonzalez maintains that Simmons should have a spot this season in Cincinnati -- wherever that might be.
"Bruce Bochy, get him on the All-Star team," Gonzalez said, referring to the Giants manager who will skipper the National League squad. "Put him at third, short, second, first; whatever you want to do, he can play, and he would be a great acquisition for an All-Star Game.
"Just don't pitch him. ... He would want to pitch, too, if you tell him he can pitch."
Given that Simmons was drafted as a pitcher, he might even be able to surprise some people on the mound. And if it were anything like his play at shortstop, he would probably make it look easy.
"I'll tell him in between innings when he makes a great play," Gonzalez said, "I check with him, 'Was that hard?' and he goes, 'No, it was OK.'"
Carlos Collazo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.