ATLANTA -- When the Tigers designated Jeff Baker for assignment Friday afternoon, it began a nervous few hours for the 31-year old utility player. With midnight on Aug. 31 approaching fast, he knew he had only a few hours to latch on with another team if he was to be eligible for its playoff roster.
So when Baker learned he had been traded to the Braves just a few hours later, he was more than pleasantly surprised.
"When I found out I was coming here, I was really excited," Baker said. "A team that's leading the Wild Card, and on top of that, a class organization."
Baker entered Sunday's finale with the Phillies hitting .253 with a .406 slugging percentage in 70 games between the Cubs, Tigers and Braves this season. He made his Braves debut in Saturday's 5-1 loss, striking out against left-hander Cliff Lee in the seventh inning.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez will likely continue to deploy Baker in a similar role the rest of the season. Baker, a right-handed hitter, is a career .298 hitter against left-handers and can play all four corner positions, as well as second base.
"I'm ready for anything, and I've always been that way," Baker said. "I'm not really expecting anything, and whatever happens, happens."
Simmons to begin rehab assignment Monday
ATLANTA -- The Braves announced Sunday that shortstop Andrelton Simmons was cleared by Dr. Gary Lourie to begin a Minor League rehab assignment. Simmons has been on the 15-day disabled list since the All-Star break with a broken right pinkie.
Simmons will begin his rehab stint Monday with Double-A Mississippi in the final game of their season. He will then move to low Class A Rome on Wednesday before heading to high Class A Lynchburg. Rome and Lynchburg will both be playing in the playoffs when Simmons joins them.
Simmons opened the season with Mississippi before getting called up May 31. He played 33 games with Atlanta before he got hurt, hitting .296 with a .452 slugging percentage.
Simmons said he's looking forward to playing one more time with his old teammates.
"See all the guys again, that's really cool," he said. "It'll be fun."
The Braves haven't mapped out exactly when Simmons will return to Atlanta, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said the best-case scenario would be next weekend for the Braves' series against the Mets.
"Hopefully we get at least three games, hopefully they don't get eliminated," Gonzalez said. "If everything looks good, no setbacks, hopefully, maybe next weekend."
Simmons said he understands he has to get game experience after missing two months, but will be ready whenever the Braves give him the call.
"I guess I've got to play to see how I'm doing and what it's like to hit in the game and field ground balls," Simmons said. "I feel like I can play now."
Gonzalez opts to sit Uggla with Hamels on mound
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez stuck with his plan when he opted not to give Dan Uggla a chance to improve his troubling career statistics against the Phillies' Cole Hamels on Sunday. At the same time, he quickly learned that Uggla did not agree with this decision.
Uggla voiced his displeasure to Gonzalez before batting practice on Sunday afternoon. A short time later, he explained his position in a professional manner.
"I hit a two-run homer off [Hamels] in the last game last year to put us up," Uggla said. "It's not a numbers thing for me, especially in September. It doesn't make any sense to me at all. ... Nobody agrees with not playing. It's just because I know what I can do, especially in September when I've been there before in big-game situations, especially last year. It's frustrating, to say the least."
As Hamels was making a three-inning postseason tuneup on the final day of the 2011 season, Uggla drilled a two-run homer off his nemesis. Still, he's batting just .145 (8-for-55) with two home runs in his career against the veteran left-hander.
With that in mind, Gonzalez stuck with his plan to spend the rest of this season picking spots when he might play Uggla, who is batting .152 with a .276 slugging percentage in his past 73 games. The Braves' manager also shuffled Sunday's lineup by replacing Jason Heyward in the lineup's third spot with Chipper Jones. This is something he could continue to do when opposing teams are starting left-handers.
Heyward has earned the opportunity to hit in the third spot, batting .293 with 18 home runs and a .990 OPS in 80 games since June 2. But against left-handed pitchers during that span, Heyward is batting .225 with four home runs and a .630 OPS. Against right-handers, he has batted .349 with 14 homers and a 1.099 OPS.
Chipper: Braves must keep consistent approach
ATLANTA -- Chipper Jones seemed to be waiting for somebody to ask him if he was planning to call a team meeting to address the skid the Braves have endured over the past two weeks. It did not take him long to confirm that was not on his agenda.
"Trust me, when I feel like something needs to be said, I say it," Jones said. "That's my job. I don't need to say anything right now. I'm not going to harp on the past. I'm not going to harp on yesterday and I'm not going to harp on tomorrow. We show up. We play the game as well as we can today and let the chips fall where they may. Any other approach other than that is not a good thing."
The Braves entered Sunday having lost 10 of their previous 14 games. Still, Jones is among those from the baseball world who seem to believe team meetings can cause more harm than good.
"We are mindless numbskulls," Jones said. "We need to think as little as possible. We're routine-oriented and regimented. Any break in that makes us start thinking. That's when bad [stuff] starts happening."