Braves part with Gamel after he re-injures knee
Corner infielder signed a Minor League contract with club in offseason
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Mat Gamel signed a Minor League contract with the Braves this winter, hoping to add a new chapter to his life.
But before his career with a new organization got started, the hard-luck corner infielder was released on Tuesday after learning that he had re-injured the same right knee that was surgically repaired each of the past two years because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
Gamel sustained this latest ailment while running last week, before he reported to the Braves' Spring Training complex. The once highly regarded prospect tore his right ACL for a second time while stretching during Spring Training workouts with the Brewers last year.
The Braves were hoping Gamel would provide organizational depth and possibly earn a callup to Atlanta to strengthen the bench. The 28-year-old batted .310 with 28 home runs and a .912 OPS for Triple-A Nashville in 2011.
Gamel's successful season with Nashville gave the Brewers confidence he was ready to begin the 2012 season as the big league club's starting first baseman. But less than a month after gaining this role, he tore his right ACL while chasing a foul ball at San Diego's Petco Park.
Simmons focused on playing, not extension
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Andrelton Simmons hopes to become the latest member of the Braves talented young core to receive a multi-year contract. But when the talented shortstop reported to Spring Training on Tuesday, he said he will allow his representatives to worry about a potential deal.
"I understand the whole thing," Simmons said. "But I know I've got to do my work, and I've got to earn whatever. I'm just focused on playing. If it happens, great, I love Atlanta. Hopefully something gets done, but you never know."
While there is mutual interest, the two parties will need to continue working toward agreeing to the total value Simmons brings with his tremendous defensive skills and offensive potential, which remains debatable through the shortstop's first 206 career games.
Along with being credited with the most defensive runs saved (41) since the inception of that stat in 2003, Simmons also opened some eyes with surprising power that came in the form of the 17 home runs he hit last year, his first full Major League season. The Curacao native entered last year with a total of nine home runs in 1,224 professional at-bats.
Simmons ended the 2013 season with a .248 batting average and .296 on-base percentage. While these numbers appear pedestrian, he steadily improved at the plate and produced a .789 OPS after the All-Star break.
"He's still going to get better," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Talking to our hitting coaches [Greg Walker and Scott Fletcher], he's still going to have some young at-bats. I'm not going to say he's going to be a 30-home run guy or a 20-home run guy for a lot of years. But if you make a mistake, he can hit one out of the ballpark."
Over the past two weeks, the Braves have signed Freddie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel and Julio Teheran to multi-year extensions that position each player to still be with the club when it moves to its new stadium in 2017.
"You've got to love what the Braves have done," said Simmons, who is hoping to eventually be added to this list.
MLB.TV slated to carry 12 spring contests
MLB.TV will carry the Braves-Phillies game scheduled for March 5 in Clearwater.
SportSouth is scheduled to broadcast games on March 13 (at Cardinals), 21 (vs. Tigers), 22 (vs. Red Sox) and 27 (at Tigers).
FOX Sports South will carry games on March 23 (vs. Mets) and 24 (vs. Astros). The game against the Astros will begin at 6:05 p.m. ET. Each of the other games are slated to begin at 1:05 p.m.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.