Simmons hoping to return to lineup this weekend

Simmons hoping to return to lineup this weekend

ATLANTA -- Andrelton Simmons is happy with the progression he has seen in his right thumb over the past few days, and the shortstop is optimistic about returning to the starting lineup at some point this weekend during the Braves' four-game series with the Marlins.

Simmons has missed five starts after suffering a bone bruise in his right thumb while trying to make a diving catch in the Braves' 12-2 loss to the Phillies last Saturday.

"It's still a little sore, tiny bit," Simmons said before throwing and taking ground balls Thursday. "But it is feeling better. It's definitely improving, thank God. There's no setbacks. Everything's going good, it's just a matter of convincing them to let me go the extra mile and start hitting and get in the game."

While Simmons still hasn't been cleared to swing, he and Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez are hoping to have him back in the next few days.

"[Wednesday] night after the game, I talked to [head athletic trainer Jeff Porter], and he goes, 'Fingers crossed we can hopefully get him in the next couple days,'" Gonzalez said.

Simmons said that he has gripped a bat without any problems, but understands why the team would rather him hold off on swings to prevent a setback with the thumb.

That said, Gonzalez isn't buying that Simmons has held off entirely.

"I'm sure he's paying a kid some place in the park to flip him balls or something," he said jokingly. "There's no way he's gone three or four days without swinging a bat.

"I can guarantee he's paying some little kid to put a ball on a tee for him, or flip for him."

Carlos Collazo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.