COL@ATL: Simmons shows off his arm strength in jam

ATLANTA -- When the Braves hosted the Rockies at Turner Field over the weekend, it was a matchup of two of the game's best shortstops: Major League batting leader Troy Tulowitzki and defending Gold Glove Award winner Andrelton Simmons.

After losing two of three in Atlanta, Tulowitzki came away impressed with what he saw from his younger counterpart.

"He's a great shortstop," Tulowitzki said. "Defensively, he's special. That arm he has is one of a kind and he's going to be good for a long time."

Colorado was shut out for only the second time this season in Sunday's 7-0 loss, but it nearly generated two big innings against Braves starter Julio Teheran. Charlie Blackmon and Michael Cuddyer led off the game with back-to-back singles before Teheran settled down and retired Tulowitzki and the heart of the lineup in order.

The Rockies, however, felt the sting of Simmons in the second. With runners on second and third, the speedy Blackmon knuckled a slow roller to short.

A charging Simmons made it look easy, scooping up the roller and firing to first, beating Blackmon by half a step to get out of the inning and preserve the shutout.

Simmons also dazzled in defeat, nabbing the speedy Drew Stubbs, who has ranked among the National League's top 10 in stolen bases three of the past four seasons, on a slow chopper to short in the first inning of Saturday's 3-1 loss to Colorado.

"The Simmons kid looks like a [heck] of a player," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, who played shortstop as a member of the Braves from 1998-2000. "Looks like he's going to be a good one for a long time."

With the first ballot update for this year's All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis looming, Tulowitzki and Simmons are candidates to appear among the top five in voting numbers among the NL's shortstops.

As far as choosing between the two, Tulowitzki acknowledges he and Simmons provide two contrasting but good choices for NL fans.

"To compare us wouldn't be fair to either of us," Tulowitzki said. "We play a little bit different. He's great at what he does, and I try to be my own guy out there."

Venters experiences setback, remains determined

Jonny Venters will rest his arm this week. (Alex Brandon/AP)

ATLANTA -- Braves reliever Jonny Venters is holding out hope that he will eventually beat the odds by returning from a second Tommy John surgery. But the past couple of weeks have certainly tried his patience and reminded him of the significant challenge he faces.

"In my mind, I was hoping it was going to be easy, but I was kind of knowing it wasn't," Venters said.

Venters experienced another setback as he threw approximately 15 pitches during a side session Sunday. The lefty experienced discomfort that he described as comparable to what he had felt when he had last been on the mound during a May 14 live batting practice session.

After examining Venters again Sunday, the Braves' medical staff maintained their belief that his left elbow is structurally sound. The belief is that his discomfort is a product of scar tissue that is placing a strain on the flexor muscle.

"I guess the scar tissue is attached to the flexor [muscle]," Venters said. "When it starts to pull away, it creates some strain. … It's one of those things you have to battle through, get through it and get better for it."

Venters will continue to be evaluated as he rests his arm this week. His goal to return to Alanta's bullpen sometime in June might be diminishing. But he remains committed to enduring this trying process with the hope of pitching at the Major League level again.

"We'll just see how it responds and take it day by day," Venters said. "It's tough when you get to this part of the program and you have a solid plan and you don't know how it's going to react to new effort levels and new challenges."