Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 4/5/13
ATLANTA Taking three cuts after the Braves 4-1 win over the Cubs at Turner Field on Friday night. 1. Yes, He Is A Leadoff Hitter The knock on Andrelton Simmons entering his first season atop the order was that he wasn't a prototypical leadoff man. Last season the shortstop drew just 12 walks in 49 games, possessing a 6.6 rate that ranked 13th on the Braves. He had one stolen base, which was 41 less than the guy he was replacing atop the order in Michael Bourn, and the 3.77 pitches Simmons saw per plate appearance were next-to-last among all MLB players with at least 130 at-bats. But through four games Simmons is proving adept at his new role, a point he drove home in the third inning of Friday night's win. Simmons drew a five-pitch walk off Scott Feldman to open the third, then with Justin Upton at the plate, he stole his first base of the year, sliding head first to get under the tag by shortstop Starlin Castro. Simmons then displayed some heads-up base running as he reached third on a wild pitch. He would be driven home off a sacrifice fly by Upton. "It felt good for that pitch, so I took off," Simmons said. "Fortunately, I got there safe and (then the) wild pitch and (Upton) did the job with the sac fly." Said manager Fredi Gonzalez: Its nice to have that in your back pocket in case you run into a situation where you cant hit balls out of the ballpark, you can create it with your legs a little bit. The stolen base was key as Simmons has had just one season in his professional career when he had more than 18, 26 in 2010 with high-A Lynchburg, and even that year he was caught on 18 of his 44 attempts. But most impressive is the amount of pitches Simmons is seeing. He entered Friday in the top 20 in the National League with 3.77 pitches per at-bat and he continued to do his part to wear down the Cubs pitching with plate appearances of four, five, four, two and four pitches. 2. One Upton Up, One Upton Down In Monday's season opener, it was Freddie Freeman, who took the Phillies' Cole Hamels 425 feet and Tuesday, Justin Upton connected on a 410-foot homer off Roy Halladay. Atlanta made it three out of four games with a home run in the first inning as Upton delivered again, parking a Scott Feldman sinker to right field. It was his third HR of the season in his fourth game in a Braves uniform and it marked the second time hes smacked three home runs in four games or less since he did it in three games from Sept. 7-9, 2011. Upton stands as the only player on the roster with a hit in each contest. In all, hes 4-for-13 (.308) with five RBI and a pair of walks. "It's even fun watching him in the cage," Simmons said. "You just watch and try to pick up stuff from him. He's really talented and he has a nice swing; everything is nice, smooth. He's going to do this all year." But while his younger brother is thriving, B.J. Upton is still searching for his first hit 14 at-bats into the young season. He 0-for-3 Friday and was hit by a pitch when a Feldman sinker smacked him in the hand in the fifth, though Upton did follow it up with his first stolen base of the year. Hes coming along, Gonzalez said. You see the at-bats, the swings hes getting there. Everyone gets into one of these things, whether its in July, August, all those guys who win batting titles they go in a little slump somewhere down the line. It just so happens B.J.s is the four games of the season. This is the first time that Upton has gone four games without a hit since Aug. 20-26, 2011, though its worth mentioning that he did end that skid with a home run. 3. Minor Keeps Riding Wave of 12 Success Mike Minor was a different pitcher over the second half of last season. After going 4-6 with a 6.20 ERA in his first 15 starts, Minor went 7-4 with a 2.20 ERA and 0.86 WHIP over his last 15 outings. His spring figures, he had a 6.26 ERA and 1.87 WHIP, may have led to fears that he would revert to the early 12 Minor but he put those notions to rest against the Cubs. Im not going to say Im going to have a game like this every time, but I had the confidence going into the season that I was going to attack the hitters like I did last year, Minor said. Minor scattered five hits over 7 13 innings, striking out seven with zero walks and allowed Chicagos only run on a home run to Scott Hairston in the fifth inning, a slider in that Minor said got away from him. We saw him give up that solo home run and he never even wavered after that, Gonzalez said. He came right back and got out of the inning. We score a couple runs and he shuts them down. He did a great job, a fantastic job, really.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Reds’ Joey Votto shuts down heckler with “I remember when you used to be thin”

Rob Gronkowski gets new contract, chance to double salary

Padres offering $99 ticket plan for five June wins or 16 June games – whatever happens first

Former Jets WR Devin Smith found out he was cut via Twitter

Roger Goodell tweets ‘Key & Peele’ joke about relaxed celebration rules

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Martavis Bryant: ‘I know this is my last chance’

Glennon: ‘This is my year and I’m not worried about the future’

Durant apologizes for response to fans complaining about blowouts

Sheldon Richardson says Jets locker room is better without Brandon Marshall

What's next for the Spurs?

Pro Football Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy dies at 48

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Best of Yardbarker: Gregg Popovich doesn't mince words

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

Getaway Day: League leaders falter allowing new teams to surge ahead

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker