The Braves shortstop took ground balls Tuesday and could return late this week. He's missed three games. (Video by David O'Brien)

Simmons fields ground balls, could return by end of week

Andrelton Simmons remained out of the lineup Tuesday with a bone bruise in his right thumb. He was able to get some pregame work in, throwing and fielding ground balls.

“(Trainer Jeff Porter) says if you see a bat in his hands, hit him over the head with it,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “But he’s getting better.”

Simmons and Gonzalez could give no specifics for the shortstop’s return, but Gonzalez hinted it could be by the end of the week.

“We’ll see,” he said. “I think so, for (trainers) to let him do all that stuff (today).”

Simmons injured his right thumb on Saturday attempting a diving catch in the seventh inning of Atlanta’s 12-2 loss in Philadelphia. Post-game X-rays came back negative and an MRI taken on Monday revealed a bone bruise.

“No tears, no breaks. So, that’s good. Just a little bone bruise,” Simmons said. “A little blood, so the swelling is there. Just got to get rid of the swelling and wait for the soreness from the bone bruise to go down.”

On Monday, Gonzalez said the thumb improved significantly since the weekend, but that improvement slowed a bit on Tuesday.

“Well, not as big, but still a little bit of improvement,” Simmons said. “It does feel a little better but it’s still not ready to get another blow at it. So, I feel like it could stand it but it’s not worth it. Any little impact might set it back, so not worth the risk.”

Simmons was hitting .254 with three homers and 30 RBIs when he got hurt. He’d been hitting .198 (17-for-86) since the start of July with just one extra-base hit in that span, a double on July 19.

Simmons has landed on the disabled list once in his career: a 58-day stretch from July-September 2012 with a broken little finger.