8/9/2014 1:48 A.M. ET
Braves set to pay tribute to the late Van Wieren
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- As longtime Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren began losing his battle against cancer, he informed family members that he wanted any memorial events to have an upbeat and positive feel.
The Braves will adhere to this wish when they honor Van Wieren's memory during an on-field ceremony before Saturday's 7:10 p.m. ET game against the Nationals. Many of the players in attendance for Alumni Weekend will enjoy a chance to celebrate the life of the legendary broadcaster, who called Braves games for 33 seasons (1976-2008).
To further honor Van Wieren, the Braves will wear a "Pete" patch on the left chest of their jerseys for the remainder of the season.
Countless members of the baseball world mourned this past Saturday's passing of Van Wieren, who was originally diagnosed with cutaneous B-cell lymphoma on Nov. 4, 2009.
La Stella belts first MLB homer, gets silent treatment
ATLANTA -- Since introducing himself to the Major League scene a little more than two months ago, Tommy La Stella has proven to be quite confident and comfortable. Thus, it probably should not have been surprising to see he had a way to counter the "silent treatment" he received after hitting his first Major League homer in Friday night's 7-6 win over the Nationals.
After hitting what proved to be a decisive home run off Stephen Strasburg to begin the bottom of the fifth, La Stella neared the Braves dugout, momentarily stood still while smirking and then walked past an expressionless Fredi Gonzalez toward the tunnel leading to the clubhouse.
"I figured I was going to get the big league treatment seeing how I had been up here for about three months with no home runs," La Stella said. "I figured it was coming. So when I got down there and saw them all sitting, that was pretty much what I expected.
"I went right up the tunnel. I froze them out myself. I countered their big league treatment and then came out and it was fine."
When La Stella reemerged from the tunnel, he stopped at the top of the dugout stairs, smirked again and then was swarmed by Jason Heyward, Chris Johnson, Alex Wood and his other teammates who have seen him hit .288 with a .731 OPS through the first 63 games of his career.
Before Friday, La Stella had not homered since playing his final game for Triple-A Gwinnett on May 27. This most recent home run trot certainly provided a much different sensation.
"It was pretty surreal," La Stella said. "I felt pretty light going around the bases. It was a pretty nice feeling."
Braves hoping to avoid DL stint for Simmons
ATLANTA -- As Andrelton Simmons walked through the Braves' clubhouse late Friday afternoon, he was wearing an air cast on his left ankle and displaying a slight limp. This is not exactly an encouraging description of an acrobatic shortstop who relies on his legs to create his defensive magic.
But because Simmons' ankle had improved since Thursday, the Braves decided they will wait a few more days with the hope of avoiding having to place the shortstop on the 15-day disabled list. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated that a decision will likely be made by at least Monday.
"It's one of those injuries where 15 days might be too much, but six might be enough," Gonzalez said. "If we can avoid those 15 days with him, I would like to take a shot at it. There is going to be a lot of communication going on, from him telling us he is getting better and the doctors saying he's getting better. I don't see him [playing] this weekend."
If the Braves can get through this weekend's key division series against the Nationals playing one man short, they will likely evaluate Simmons again before Monday's series opener against the Dodgers. The shortstop turned his left ankle when he stepped on third base without looking during Tuesday night's game against the Mariners. He left Seattle the next day under the power of crutches.
When Simmons arrived at Turner Field to undergo treatment during Thursday's off-day, he was still struggling to walk under his own power.
"I didn't feel half as good [on Thursday] as I do now," Simmons said. "I came in today and I was thinking, 'I'm not even limping.' So, I don't know when I come in tomorrow how good I will feel or what they think about me starting [to jog]. [The trainers] are the experts. I just know I feel a lot better than I did yesterday and I'm walking a lot better.
"It's been gradually feeling better, but the jump from yesterday to today was pretty noticeable."
If the Braves determine they have no choice but to place Simmons on the disabled list, they might promote highly regarded prospect Jose Peraza from Double-A Mississippi to serve as the starting shortstop for at least a week.
Peraza, the Braves' No. 1 overall prospect, has played just 41 games above the Class A level. But the speedy 20-year-old infielder has batted .335 with a .361 on-base percentage and 25 stolen bases (32 attempts) since getting promoted to Double-A Mississippi.
Braves honor Hall of Famers Maddux, Glavine, Cox
ATLANTA -- The Braves kicked off Alumni Weekend on Friday with a pregame ceremony that recognized their three newest Hall of Famers -- Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Bobby Cox.
When Maddux, Glavine and Cox were being inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 27, they each made mention of the fans back in Atlanta who were watching the festivities taking place in Cooperstown, N.Y. Some of those fans who were not able to be present for those induction ceremonies were at Turner Field on Friday night to show their appreciation for the trio. All three threw out ceremonial first pitches.
Braves first-base coach Terry Pendleton was also looking forward to congratulating his two former teammates and manager.
"We don't get to see [Maddux] too often around here, so whenever he is here, it's special," Pendleton said. "We get a chance to see Bobby and Glavine all the time around here, but we don't get a chance to see all three of them together, especially after the induction. We knew they were Hall of Famers already, but it's been stamped with a seal of approval."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.