7/24/2014 7:25 P.M. ET
Kimbrel, Braves visit children's hospital
By Joe Morgan / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Braves closer Craig Kimbrel has visited Children's Healthcare of Atlanta many times, but the experience never grows old for the hard-throwing right-hander. When asked about his visit on Thursday afternoon, he responded, "I love it every year."
"They're not all baseball fans, but they all know that we're in there to try to make them feel better," Kimbrel said. "And they make us feel better. With what they're going through, if we can put a smile on their face just by seeing us, our bad days don't seem so bad. And I feel like that's what we all take out of that."
Kimbrel has visited both with the team and with his wife, Ashley, as part of his partnership with Curing Kids' Cancer, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding cutting-edge treatments for pediatric cancer.
Numerous teammates joined Kimbrel on Thursday, including Justin Upton, Shae Simmons and Alex Wood. Wood was grateful to take part in the visits.
"It's kind of one of those things where you feel a little bit more selfish," Wood said, "because it's almost like they inspire you so much and make you really appreciate how fortunate we are to do what we do and have the loving, caring families, and the health of our families, day in and day out."
Wood was appreciative to meet several Braves fans who keep up with the team, but he also enjoyed the experience of talking with the patients who do not watch baseball.
"There's other ones that aren't that interested in it, and those are the ones that really make you feel fortunate to be there and they're allowing us to come in there and spend a few minutes with them and kind of just hang out and show our appreciation," Wood said.
"Let them know that there's people outside of their families and people at the hospital that are thinking about them and hoping they get well."
Simmons latest Braves regular to get a night off
ATLANTA -- As catcher Evan Gattis returned to the Braves' starting lineup, Andrelton Simmons received the night off on Thursday. Ramiro Pena started as shortstop and batted eighth in place of Simmons.
Simmons entered Thursday having played in 48 of Atlanta's past 49 games, and his 866 1/3 innings played this year rank third on the team. Gattis' return to the lineup falls in line with Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez's plan to give him a day off once every few days.
"Going forward, we'll do that like we did at the beginning of the year," Gonzalez said. "Just keep him healthy, keep him fresh."
Meanwhile, reliever Anthony Varvaro will spend a second day on the paternity list. Atlanta has not yet received word if his wife has given birth yet, but Varvaro is allowed up to three days off for paternity leave.
"I'm hoping everything is good, but I haven't heard if the baby was delivered or anything," Gonzalez said. "I haven't even heard that. I know he's not here. He mentioned to me that today would have been the day."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.