LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – If you attended a Braves workout the past two days, you may have noticed a player in uniform riding a tiny pink bike out to the backfields. So what was that about, you ask?
Braves pitching prospect Shae Simmons, in the first week of his first major league spring training, made the mistake a few days ago of hitching a ride on one of the golf carts that are driven by clubhouse staffers to take veteran players, coaches or team officials to their cars or back to the clubhouse or wherever. Some players noticed and weren’t overly amused.
B.J. Upton meted out some good-natured discipline by purchasing a kid-sized bicycle that Simmons, 23, has been required to pedal to and from the backfields at the beginning and end of workouts the past two days at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports, passing by many curious fans and other onlookers.
Call it a teaching moment for Simmons, who has emerged as a legitimate prospect since the Braves selected him in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft out of Southeast Missouri State University.
The undersized (5-foot-9) right-hander had a combined 1.69 ERA in 50 appearances last season at Class-A Rome and Double-A Mississippi, with 82 strikeouts and 22 walks in 53-1/3 innings. In 39 games at Rome, he recorded 24 saves with a 1.49 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 42-1/3 innings.
In two minor league seasons, Simmons has a 1.62 ERA in 66 relief appearances, with 118 strikeouts, 38 walks and no home runs allowed in 78 innings.