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Simmons makes bittersweet journey to Taiwan


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After playing six innings of Saturday's 8-3 loss to the Yankees, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons went to the Orlando International Airport to begin a 20-hour journey to Taiwan, where he and his Netherlands teammates will compete in this year's World Baseball Classic.

"I will try to get myself tired, and it will help me get through this," said Simmons, who was planning to watch multiple movies and make good use of his iPad while in the air.

Proving unselfish, Simmons traded his first-class ticket for two coach tickets. He will use one, and his mother will use the other when she flies from their native Curacao to Taiwan on Sunday.

"She's a good sleeper," Simmons said. "She taught me how to sleep."

Simmons is looking forward to spending the next few weeks competing with many of his friends from his native Curacao, a Dutch island that is now producing a tremendous wealth of baseball talent. But he was also somewhat reluctant to leave Braves' camp after playing just two exhibition games.

The Netherlands will practice this week and begin play in Pool B on March 2. Simmons could return to Braves' camp as early as March 7. If the team advances to the second round, he would stay in Asia until at least March 9.

Either way, he will be away from Braves' camp for most of the next two weeks and possibly longer.

"I don't want to leave here, to be honest," Simmons said. "The games just started, and you're going to start playing with new teammates. But I guess I need to go. I want to go. But at the same time I don't want to leave."

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