Simmons happy first game's under his belt

Simmons happy first game's under his belt

WASHINGTON -- Before his Major League debut was postponed by rain on Friday night, Andrelton Simmons said he was willing to accept the playful jabs that he would receive from veteran teammates.

"As long as I'm here, I'm willing to take the teasing for a little bit," said Simmons, who learned on Wednesday that he was being promoted from Double-A Mississippi to replace Tyler Pastornicky as Atlanta's starting shortstop.

Simmons endured some ribbing when he arrived to the ballpark just two hours before the start of Sunday afternoon's game, explaining to some teammates that his cab driver got lost on the way to Nationals Park. Still, the confident 22-year-old shortstop did not seem bothered. He was still excited about the thrill he experienced during his Major League debut on Saturday.

"Just getting on the field, it was pretty cool," Simmons said. "It's not real until you get your first game in. There's a big difference between Spring Training and a regular-season game. I was kind of anxious and wanted to do stuff. But after I got the first ground ball, I was like, 'I've done this before, it's nothing different.'"

Simmons proved flawless with each of the five grounders hit to him and had a chance to show off his strong arm after going to his left to field a ground ball in the eighth inning. He went hitless in three at-bats while drawing the unenviable challenge of facing Stephen Strasburg in his big league debut.

Simmons returned to the park on Sunday to face Gio Gonzalez, who has been one of the National League's top pitchers this year. While playing against the Marlins this coming week in Miami, he will be challenged by Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle.

But he will go into the Marlins series with his first hit already under his belt. He recorded the milestone with a a second-inning double against Gonzalez on Sunday.

"It's a good way to start," Simmons said. "I wouldn't want the easy way out."