Simmons will undergo a MRI on Tuesday as a precaution
PEORIA, Ariz. — A day after being removed from the game because of forearm stiffness, reliever Shae Simmons seemed optimistic it was nothing serious.
As a precaution, Simmons will undergo a MRI on Tuesday and be evaluated by team orthopedist Dr. Edward Khalfayan.
“I’m not too concerned about it,” Simmons said. “I think it’s more muscle. As long as it’s muscle, we can do the necessary steps to rehab and everything and strengthen and it get back to where it was.”
The initial plan is pretty simple.
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“We’re just going to rest it and see how things progress or digress and then go form there,” he said.
Simmons admitted the forearm felt stiff on Sunday morning, but it was expected and not of major concern.
“Obviously it was going to be a little sore just because I threw in a game yesterday,” he said. “And if something like that happens, I knew it was going to be a little stiff. It stiffened up on me while I was pitching so it’s going to be stiff the next day.”
The stiffness first became noticeable to Simmons after throwing a first-pitch fastball to hitter Seth Mejias-Brean in the seventh inning of Saturday’s Cactus League game vs. the Reds. It was the fourth batter he had faced in the inning.
“It was weird,” he said. “I didn’t feel anything till the last hitter. Everything felt good. Coming in I felt strong, as far as I know everything was normal, it started on the first pitch to the last hitter.”
Simmons threw another fastball to Mejias-Brean that was clocked at 92 mph, below his average velocity. He could be seen flexing is right hand over and over trying to loosen the forearm. After a pickoff throw to first drew more hand flexing, assistant athletic trainer Rob Nodine alerted manager Scott Servais and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, and all three went to the mound. Simmons was removed after a brief conversation.
“The preliminary (diagnosis) is that he’s going to be OK, but we want to make sure,” Servais said on Sunday morning.
But that doesn’t mean they will rush Simmons back. They plan to be careful with him.
“We are,” Servais said. “We really like the pitcher, like the stuff, like his makeup and everything else. He’s certainly going to help us at some point. We just want to make sure he’s an option, so we’re going to take it easy. You want to be overly cautious on this one.”
Part of the overcautious plan is also based on Simmons’ injury history. He tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow with the Braves during spring training in 2015. He missed all of the 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery and was planning on a midseason return for the Braves in 2016. He was slowed by a lat strain in his rehab work. He returned to pitch in August for the Braves and made seven appearances, but he was shut down in late September with forearm issues.
But this forearm issue is different than the one from last season.
“It’s in the bottom part, the larger part around the flexor area,” Simmons said. “Last year it was on the top of my forearm. I recovered from that though. I even went down to Florida to throw some bullpens at the end of the season to make sure it was OK.”
Simmons has had no issues this spring and never deviated from his throwing program because of soreness, injury or otherwise.
“Everything has been fine,” he said. “It’s been a normal spring and I thought it was going to be a normal spring training. Maybe this is just a little bump in the road and everything is going to be fine.