Gonzalez has goal for Simmons at the plate

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the four-day All-Star break may have been the best possible remedy for shortstop Andrelton Simmons’ cold bat.

“He really takes this stuff seriously,” Gonzalez said Friday. “There’s nobody in that clubhouse that wants to win or cares more about winning than Simmons does. … In Colorado, I threatened to send him to Triple-A if he (didn’t stop) swinging. This is two hours after the game, we’re getting ready to leave and I hear, ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’ in the batting cages and I look in and it’s him. So he cares, and so maybe this four-day All-Star break might have kind of relaxed him a bit and (helped him) not think about baseball.”

Gonzalez said he hasn’t seen a better first two months of offense from Simmons than this season. His average was .279 after Atlanta swept the Mets on June 21 — he’d been hitting .240 and .257 on June 21 in 2013 and 2014.

“I saw the ball good tonight. Worked the counts, tried to do the right thing every at-bat and got good results,” Simmons said after going 7-for-11 in the three-game sweep. “I got some tough pitches, I didn’t square them up, but I did the right things I feel like. A good approach. Got good enough contact to get hits.”

Simmons sunk into a major slump in the 18 games since that night, hitting .148 (9-for-61) with no extra-base hits and eight strikeouts. It took him 34 games to strike out eight times before the slump. He entered Friday’s game hitting .254.

Gonzalez has a simple goal for Simmons in the second half: Get that good approach back.

“I don’t want to put a number out there, whether it’s .270 or .280 or whatever,” he said. “You just want to see the at-bats — the good approaches. And I think it might have been a great thing for him, these four days off.”

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