Andrelton Simmons had mixed feelings when he left Braves spring training 3-1/2 weeks ago to play in the World Baseball Classic, but the shortstop knew he’d made the right decision as he helped lead the Netherlands to a surprising berth in the tourney semifinals.
“It was a great experience, and I took a lot from it,” said Simmons, who hit .333 (10-for-30) with three doubles, two homers and a .382 on-base percentage while batting leadoff for the Dutch team, which advanced to the final four in San Francisco before losing to eventual champion Dominican Republic on Monday.
Simmons, coming off an impressive rookie season with the Braves, drew praise from far and wide for his all-around performance in the WBC. He played alert, often-spectacular defense, led the WBC with 10 runs scored in eight games and finished with 19 total bases, topped only by Dominican star Robinson Cano’s 25.
“We had a blast,” Simmons said. “I didn’t expect it to be that fun and didn’t expect the team to be that good. But we worked well together. Everybody had fun with each other. I mean, we did great, I think.”
Back in Braves camp after the team’s day off Tuesday, Simmons was in the lineup Wednesday against Pittsburgh. He said Wednesday morning that he was “game-ready” for the season following his WBC stint, then showed it by doubling off the center-field wall on the second pitch of the game.