4/11/2014 7:10 P.M. ET
Varvaro verifies manager's unshakable trust
By Mark Bowman and Joe Morgan / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- With the bases loaded and the score tied in the top of the fifth inning of Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Mets, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez turned to right-hander Anthony Varvaro to put out the fire.
Varvaro obliged, striking out Juan Lagares and getting Travis d'Arnaud to ground into a forceout at second. As the game remained tied headed into the sixth, Varvaro again came through by striking out two and throwing just 14 pitches in a perfect frame.
"That's why you play the game, right?" Varvaro said. "You don't play to be the mop-up guy, right? Any opportunity you have to come in in a big situation and get the job done, that always feels good, and I think it gives your manager a little more confidence in you to keep on sending you back out there in those situations."
Varvaro's clutch performance out of the bullpen was a far cry from the struggles he endured during Spring Training. Varvaro posted a 9.82 ERA and gave up 20 hits in 10 outings that spanned 11 innings.
Despite Varvaro's struggles, Gonzalez never wavered in his confidence in the right-hander, who recorded a 2.82 ERA in 62 appearances out of Atlanta's bullpen in 2013.
"He's done a terrific job, same as last year," Gonzalez said. "So you feel comfortable that he goes out and has a bad Spring Training like he did this year, you don't panic because you've seen him. You've got a little history with him.
"When you put him out there and he does what he does, you go, 'OK, this is the Varvaro we know.' And that's why you stick with him."
'Too careful' Simmons gets extra day of recovery
ATLANTA -- Andrelton Simmons was prepared to return to the Braves' starting lineup for Friday night's series opener against the Nationals. But manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to give his shortstop one more day to recover from the sore right wrist he incurred after indecisively nearing the plate while thinking about the new collision rule in Wednesday night's 4-3 win over the Mets.
"We're going to let him get a good workout today and see how he feels," Gonzalez said. "If he [feels good], he'll be in there tomorrow. I'm 95 percent sure that he'll be fine. But I also want to make sure he is fine. I don't want something small to turn into something big, especially dealing with hands, fingers and [the] wrist."
Simmons' wrist did not provide him any discomfort when he took some swings in the batting cage on Friday afternoon. When he didn't play on Thursday, he indicated the wrist bothered him more when he swung than when he threw a baseball.
"I could have played [on Thursday], but I wouldn't have been very effective," Simmons said. "I feel fine today, but I'm guessing they're just wanting to be cautious."
Simmons jammed his right wrist when he tripped over plate umpire Mark Ripperger's foot after attempting to avoid a collision with Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud during Wednesday's fifth inning. The Braves shortstop was attempting to score on Chris Johnson's sharp grounder to shortstop Ruben Tejada.
Tejada's throw easily beat Simmons, who admits that he was hesitant about colliding with d'Arnaud because of his unfamiliarity with the new collision rule, which was put in place to protect catchers from those instances when a runner goes out of his way to create a violent collision.
Catchers have to provide baserunners a path to the plate before they have secured the ball.
"There's a misinterpretation out there that there's no collision," Gonzalez said. "You can still collide. I wouldn't say a violent collision. You can still have a collision at the plate. That hasn't changed as long as the catcher has the ball."
While sliding was an option, the Braves have told Simmons his best move would have been to get in a rundown long enough to allow Johnson to advance to second base and Freddie Freeman to first base.
"I didn't want to make it seem like I was trying to hurt [d'Arnaud]," Simmons said. "I slowed down, and being too careful got me more banged up."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.