09/14/12 11:06 PM ET
Simmons cleared for action in series opener
By Mark Bowman and Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
While taking ground balls and running the bases before batting practice on Friday, Simmons did enough to convince Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez to put him back in the lineup. The 23-year-old shortstop was activated from the disabled list on Monday after missing a little more than two months with a fractured fifth metacarpal on his right hand.
Simmons sprained his ankle as he returned to second base during Brewers right-hander Marco Estrada's pickoff attempt on Tuesday night. The rookie shortstop's foot got stuck in the dirt as he suddenly stopped himself from attempting a head-first slide that might have led him to reinjure his hand.
Fredi opts to give Bourn break from starting lineup
ATLANTA -- Hoping to energize Michael Bourn for the final weeks of this season, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to give his struggling leadoff hitter a chance to rest during the series opener of this weekend's three-game series against the Nationals.
With the Nationals starting left-hander Ross Detwiler on Friday night, Gonzalez opted to keep both Bourn and Brian McCann out of the lineup. Both have struggled against Detwiler. But the veteran skipper said his decision was based on the desire to give both a second day to rest coming off Thursday's scheduled off-day.
"It really wasn't even two days, we got in [from Milwaukee] at four in the morning [on Thursday]," Gonzalez said. "So it was really just a day and a half."
Bourn has certainly provided some indication that he could benefit from a chance to rest. The All-Star outfielder has entered Friday batting .169 with a .286 on-base percentage in his past 16 games dating back to Aug. 26. He went 0-for-12 with four strikeouts and no walks as the Braves were swept by the Brewers this week.
With the presence of Reed Johnson, the Braves have the luxury to provide Bourn the rest that he did not get during the season's first four months. This marked the fourth time Bourn has been out of the lineup since Johnson was acquired from the Cubs on July 30. He was out of the lineup for just one of the 103 games the Braves played through the end of July.
"Everybody goes through those [slumps]," Gonzalez said. "Hopefully now we can get him going in the right spot."
When Bourn hit .311 with a .366 on-base percentage before the All-Star break, the Braves were averaging 4.6 runs per game. As he has batted .224 with a .318 on-base percentage since the break, they have averaged 4.1 runs.
Bourn's influence has been even more telling over the past month. As he has hit .186 with a .317 on-base dating back to Aug. 18, the Braves have gone 11-14 and averaged 3.1 runs per game.
Entering Friday, Bourn had one hit in 13 at-bats against Detwiler. McCann was 2-for-12 against the Nationals' left-handed pitcher.
Turner flags lowered to honor U.S. losses in Libya
ATLANTA -- On the day the bodies of four Americans killed in Libya were returned to the United States, the flag at Turner Field flew at half-staff in their honor.
The Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, were killed in the widening anti-Western protests, which began this week in Egypt and have spread across the Middle East.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the killings in Libya were the latest example of people not valuing the lives of other humans.
"It's sad that the world is in that state," Gonzalez said. "People all over the world, even here in the United States, there are some acts that are mind boggling. It's just sad."
The flag was flown at half-staff Friday at ballparks around Major League Baseball.
The Braves will honor their Pitchers and Players of the Year from each of their Minor League affiliates before Saturday afternoon's game against the Nationals. The organization's top awards went to J.R. Graham (Pitcher of the Year) and outfielder Todd Cunningham (Player of the Year).
Major League Productions is in town this weekend to film "Caught Looking," a new collaboration with the NBC Sports Group that features a behind-the-scenes look at two Major League teams as they battle in a key series during the final weeks of the regular season. The next show will focus on this weekend's Nationals-Braves series. It will air on NBC Sports Network on Thursday at 9 p.m. ET.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.