7/2/2014 6:31 P.M. ET
Simmons' brush with offense causes stir
By Mark Bowman and Joe Morgan / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- As relief pitcher Shae Simmons' spot in the order approached during the bottom of the fifth on Tuesday night, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez did not call a pinch-hitter. Simmons had escaped a jam in top of the inning, and Gonzalez wanted to keep him on the mound.
So with Tommy La Stella at the plate and Christian Bethancourt on deck, the skipper told the rookie right-hander to prepare for his first Major League plate appearance.
"The only time I saw him flustered yesterday was when I told him to grab a bat," Gonzalez said while laughing. "He goes, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Grab a bat and a helmet. If Bethancourt hits a three-run homer, you're going to hit.'"
Simmons added: "It's been a while since I've had an actual at-bat. I had one in Double-A and I swung after it hit the glove."
Simmons was confused as one of Gerald Laird's bats was placed in his hands. Not only did he initially refuse a thumb guard ("It wasn't comfortable," he said.), but when he was asked for his helmet size, Simmons responded, "Large."
Once the initial shock wore off, however, Simmons had a sense of humor about the situation.
"I asked for the biggest bat they had, but they didn't think it was too funny," Simmons said. "I used one of Laird's, I think. He just told me to grab one. ... He made sure I didn't grab a good one, though."
La Stella ended up striking out to end the inning, and Simmons didn't need to bat before he went out and pitched a perfect sixth. When the ninth spot in the lineup came up the next inning, Gonzalez spared Simmons a trip to the plate and called on Dan Uggla to pinch-hit.
"It kind of helped get my mind off the game and everything," Simmons said. "I just worried about hitting instead of pitching, so it gave my mind a little breather."
Carpenter returns from DL with clear head
ATLANTA -- When Braves reliever David Carpenter came off the disabled list on Wednesday, he was not worried about the right biceps strain that had sidelined him the previous two weeks. The time off was more than enough for him to recover physically, but more importantly, he admitted, it was nice to have a chance to mentally recover from the sudden struggles that began during that latter part of May.
"I'm back to normal and feeling good," Carpenter said. "It was good to just step away and get everything right."
Carpenter entered this season attempting to build off the success he had when he produced a 1.78 ERA in a career-high 56 appearances last year. The 28-year-old right-hander seemed to be heading in the right direction when he produced a 1.69 ERA through his first 18 appearances. But he posted a 7.71 ERA and allowed opponents to hit .436 in the 16 appearances that followed leading up to his DL stint.
"I just got a little tired," Carpenter said. "I always want the ball whenever they call down. I never want to say I need a day or I need this. You want to be a guy that is relied upon."
When Carpenter proved steady through this season's first 18 appearances, he allowed a .364 BAbip (batting average on balls in play) and struck out one of every 3.28 batters he faced, similar to the 3.11 strikeout/plate appearance ratio he produced last year. In his 16 most recent appearances, he surrendered a .564 BAbip and struck out just one of every 4.5 batters he faced.
Carpenter was pleased to see his fastball consistently register 95-98 mph as he struck out four of the seven batters he faced during the two scoreless rehab appearances he made for Triple-A Gwinnett.
But velocity was never really an issue for Carpenter until his fastball dropped to 91 mph during a June 16 appearance that prompted his DL stint. According to FanGraphs.com, his average fastball velocity (95.3) has actually been a tick higher than it was last year (95.1).
• Infielder Phil Gosselin and right-handed reliever Juan Jaime were named to the Triple-A All-Star Game on Wednesday. This is the first such nod for each player.
Jaime has twice been recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett this season and owns a 2.25 ERA in three appearances out of the Atlanta bullpen. He is 1-0 with a 2.30 ERA and 13 saves in 27 1/3 innings for Gwinnett this year.
Gosselin is tied for first in International League with 98 hits, ranks third with a .320 batting average, holds a fifth-place tie with 20 doubles and ranks seventh with 133 total bases and 45 runs scored.
• Second baseman Tommy La Stella was back in the Braves lineup on Wednesday after leaving the previous night's game with a bruise on his right foot. He sustained the injury when he was hit by a pitch in the second but played five more innings. La Stella woke up Wednesday morning without any swelling or discomfort.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.