03/31/12 6:20 PM ET
Simmons slowed by sore left side
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
"Simmons doesn't need to show what he can do," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's pretty solid."
While recording just three hits in his past 26 at-bats, Simmons has provided more reason to believe he will be overmatched if he makes the jump from Class A to the Major Leagues to start the season. Meanwhile, Pastornicky has shown some signs of life with nine hits in his past 25 at-bats.
But with just three hits in his past 16 at-bats, Pastornicky has not overwhelmed those who have been underwhelmed by what he offers with his glove. This group has contended that Simmons' superior defensive skills negate the offensive struggles he might encounter while batting in the eighth spot of the lineup.
Gonzalez hopes Simmons will be able to return to the lineup within the next couple of days. The hope has been that this extra rest will prevent him from suffering an oblique strain that would sideline him for a few weeks.
"We're trying to not make something that is small, big," Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez sets rotation, sans No. 5 spot
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez set his starting rotation to match his lone southpaw Mike Minor against the left-handed heavy Mets, and to give Jair Jurrjens a chance to start the April 13 home opener against the Brewers.
Along with announcing on Saturday that Tommy Hanson will start Thursday's Opening Day game against the Mets, Gonzalez revealed he has not decided whether Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran will begin the year as the fifth starter.
Jurrjens will make his season debut when the Braves play the Mets on April 7 in the second game of a three-game set. Because there is a scheduled off-day between the first and second games, Jurrjens would be pitching with two extra days' rest. To compensate for this, he will likely throw a longer bullpen session on Monday or Tuesday.
Minor will start the April 8 series finale against the Mets and Brandon Beachy will make his season debut when the Braves open a three-game series against the Astros on April 9. The decision to go with Minor was based on the fact that the Mets have at least three left-handed hitters in their normal lineup. Switch-hitting left fielder Lucas Duda has also proven more dangerous against right-handed hitters.
Teheran will extend the battle for the fifth spot in the rotation when he starts against the Phillies on Sunday. This will be his first appearance since he felt some stiffness around his right shoulder after his March 19 appearance.
The Braves will only need to use the fifth spot in the rotation three times before Tim Hudson makes his scheduled return in late April. Hanson could return on regular rest for the April 10 game against the Astros or with an extra day of rest on April 11. The fifth starter will make his first start in one of these games.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he gave Martin Prado a chance to rest his legs on Saturday. Prado has a .348 average with four doubles and two triples in 21 games.
Craig Kimbrel threw just two pitches before rain forced Saturday's game against the Tigers to be halted in the seventh inning. Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty are all expected to pitch in Tuesday night's exhibition game against the Braves' Future Stars at Triple-A Gwinnett's Coolray Stadium.
Chipper Jones, who is recovering from left knee surgery, and Arodys Vizcaino, who will miss the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, have both been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 26. Jones will be eligible for activation on April 10. He is aiming to return for the April 13 home opener against the Brewers.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.