NEW YORK -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez did not enjoy calling Dan Uggla into his office last weekend to inform him that he might not be in the lineup as frequently over the remainder of the season. But it appears the Braves are already benefiting from this tough-love decision.
Since being left out of the lineup for the first three games this week, Uggla has been showing signs of improvement at the plate. After recording two extra-base hits during Friday night's 3-0 win over the Mets, the All-Star second baseman told reporters, "I'm back."
Uggla was indeed back in the lineup for a fourth consecutive game on Saturday afternoon against the Mets.
"You can see him trying to come out of it," Gonzalez said. "Those are good signs. [Braves hitting coach Greg Walker] and I are encouraged about that."
When Uggla was initially told that he might not play as frequently, he said he did not believe numbers mattered in September and indicated that this is the time of year that teams needed to stick with their top veterans. Still, the fact that he had hit .157 with a .596 OPS in his past 78 games entering Saturday gave the Braves plenty of reason to explore other options.
But it appears they are hoping to be able to stick with Uggla as a regular in their lineup. The veteran second baseman entered Saturday having recorded a hit in seven of the previous eight games that he had started and with five extra-base hits -- two doubles and three home runs -- in his previous 31 at-bats.
Braves to welcome back Simmons on Monday
NEW YORK -- Rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons will rejoin the Braves on Monday with the hope that he can prove to be the spark that he was before his promising rookie season was derailed by the fractured right pinkie finger he sustained on July 8.
Simmons is scheduled to play with Class A Advanced Lynchburg in the Carolina League best-of-five championship series against Winston-Salem on Saturday and Sunday. He will travel to Milwaukee and be activated for the first game of the series against the Brewers.
"When he arrives here, I don't think there will be any restrictions," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Given that Simmons had been sidelined for nearly two full months before he was cleared to begin playing rehab games at the start of this past week, the Braves wanted him to spend a few more days strengthening his legs in these Minor League games. He played in Double-A Mississippi's regular-season finale on Monday and for Class A Rome in the first game it played during the South Atlantic League playoffs.
Simmons played with Lynchburg on Thursday and Friday. His fourth-inning home run helped the Hillcats clinch the Carolina League's North Division championship on Friday night.
With Friday night's 3-0 win over the Mets, the Braves notched a third consecutive shutout for the first time in exactly 10 years. The previous time was Sept. 4-7, 2002. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it also marked the first time that they used six pitchers in a shutout since Sept. 7, 2002.
Ben Sheets and Randall Delgado are both scheduled to throw simulated games on Monday in Milwaukee. Julio Teheran completed one on Friday afternoon. The Braves are trying to keep each of these pitchers ready in the event that they are needed to make a start down the stretch. Sheets, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 24 with right shoulder inflammation, said he has felt great over the past week.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.