ATLANTA -- As relief pitcher Shae Simmons' spot in the order approached during the bottom of the fifth on Tuesday night, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez did not call a pinch-hitter. Simmons had escaped a jam in top of the inning, and Gonzalez wanted to keep him on the mound.
"The only time I saw him flustered yesterday was when I told him to grab a bat," Gonzalez said while laughing. "He goes, 'What do you mean?' I said, 'Grab a bat and a helmet. If Bethancourt hits a three-run homer, you're going to hit.'"
Simmons added: "It's been a while since I've had an actual at-bat. I had one in Double-A and I swung after it hit the glove."
Simmons was confused as one of Gerald Laird's bats was placed in his hands. Not only did he initially refuse a thumb guard ("It wasn't comfortable," he said.), but when he was asked for his helmet size, Simmons responded, "Large."
Once the initial shock wore off, however, Simmons had a sense of humor about the situation.
"I asked for the biggest bat they had, but they didn't think it was too funny," Simmons said. "I used one of Laird's, I think. He just told me to grab one. ... He made sure I didn't grab a good one, though."
La Stella ended up striking out to end the inning, and Simmons didn't need to bat before he went out and pitched a perfect sixth. When the ninth spot in the lineup came up the next inning, Gonzalez spared Simmons a trip to the plate and called on Dan Uggla to pinch-hit.
"It kind of helped get my mind off the game and everything," Simmons said. "I just worried about hitting instead of pitching, so it gave my mind a little breather."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.