7/20/2014 7:45 P.M. ET
Santana raises awareness for chikungunya virus
By Joe Morgan / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Ervin Santana usually uses his Twitter account to post inspirational quotes, celebrate when the Braves win and use his signature catchphrase #SmellBaseball. But the pitcher adopted a more serious tone recently regarding the chikungunya virus.
Santana informed his more than 85,000 followers of the mosquito-borne virus that has taken hold of his native Dominican Republic. His parents, his sister, his grandmother and several other family members have been just a few of the 251,880 infected.
That number, reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, accounts for nearly 2.5 percent of the Dominican Republic's population of 10.3 million people.
"It's a very dangerous disease," Santana said. "It's going on in the Dominican, and I hear it's now here in Florida. It's really bad. My family has it."
The virus, common to Asia, Africa and Europe, recently spread to the Caribbean and has appeared in Florida this week. Although the virus is not deadly, it possesses numerous extreme symptoms that include high fevers measuring up to 104 degrees, swelling and pain in the joints, muscle pain, headaches, nausea, fatigue and rashes.
"You have a lot of pain in your joints, you don't have energy," said Santana, grabbing a ballpoint pen from his locker. "Just trying to lift a pen, it's too heavy for you."
Santana said the condition of his affected family members is improving, but that the virus stays in your system for a year following infection. Although a CNN report indicates the chikungunya virus won't have nearly as dramatic effect in the U.S. as it has in the Dominican Republic, Santana still wants to create awareness.
"It's tough, but we've just got to try and find a way to keep it away from everybody," Santana said. "So we just have to talk to doctors to find out what is the best medicine for that."
J. Upton's status uncertain after being hit by pitch
ATLANTA -- Justin Upton exited Sunday's game with left triceps soreness after Kyle Kendrick plunked him with an 88-mph sinker in the third. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is hopeful, but uncertain if Upton will be available to start on Monday.
Upton remained in the game initially, playing through the top of the sixth before the contest was halted for a rain delay lasting one hour and 39 minutes.
"I think the rain delay also got him, where you're sitting around and he's just trying to keep it heated up with some pads," Gonzalez said. "He came up just before the start after the rain delay, and he goes, 'Skip, it's stiff.' So, I said, 'You know what, let's not take a chance here.' I think at that point, we had a five-run lead."
Gonzalez wanted Upton to receive treatment quickly, so he performed a double switch in the bottom of the sixth, pinch-hitting Jordan Schafer for starter Alex Wood and Tyler Pastornicky for Upton before sending Schafer out to play left field for the rest of the game.
"I've got my fingers crossed that he will be in the lineup tomorrow," Gonzalez said. "We'll see."
Fredi expects Gattis to be in Monday's lineup
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez is counting on Evan Gattis to be activated from the 15-day disabled list in time for Monday's series opener against the Marlins.
"He had six at-bats [on Sunday], so I'm thinking he's good," Gonzalez said. "I expect him to be here tomorrow and in the lineup tomorrow."
Gonzalez was to speak with Gwinnett manager Brian Snitker on Sunday afternoon just to make sure Gattis is not dealing with any stiffness or pain in his back.
Gattis, who has been sidelined since first feeling the effects of a bulging thoracic disc on June 27, played the fourth and likely final game of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday afternoon.
Regaining timing at the plate was the main concern for Gattis, who made it through his time in Gwinnett pain-free while catching 12 innings and tallying 16 at-bats.
Gattis finished 2-for-6 with two singles, two RBIs, two runs scored and three strikeouts as the designated hitter on Sunday, showing the improvement at the plate after going only 1-for-10 with an infield single and four strikeouts in his first three games.
Simmons' impressive homerless streak snapped
ATLANTA -- Shae Simmons faced 492 batters in his professional career since the Braves drafted him in the 22nd round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft before Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins became the first Major Leaguer to take him deep.
It was the first home run Simmons has allowed since his final year at Southwest Missouri State, when he gave up a long ball to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's Devin Caldwell on May 18, 2012.
"It's been long enough, I guess," Simmons joked.
Rollins hit a low drive that plated the only two runs Philadelphia needed on Saturday night as Simmons suffered his first Major League loss. The ball was caught by a fan in the front row, only about a foot or two above Jason Heyward's outstretched glove.
"Rollins is a good hitter, and I left the ball just over the plate enough for him to do something with it," Simmons said.
The blast put into perspective not only how effective Simmons has proven at keeping the ball in the park, but how well the rookie has pitched since Atlanta purchased his contract from Double-A Mississippi on May 31.
Saturday night marked only the fourth time Simmons has allowed a run to come across in 20 2/3 innings. Entering Sunday, he owned a 2.18 ERA, and his eight holds ranked fourth among Braves relievers despite owning the second-lowest inning total on the active roster.
"Home runs happen; they're going to continue to happen," reliever Anthony Varvaro said. "I know he's pitched very well since he's been here, and I definitely know he hasn't given up many hits, including home runs."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.