Braves hoping Simmons will avoid DL with ankle injury

The Braves are hoping they can avoid putting Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons on the disabled list as he battles an sprained ankle.

ATLANTA -- Walking through the clubhouse with an aircast on his sprained left ankle, shortstop Andrelton Simmons remained sidelined, though the Atlanta Braves are hoping they can avoid a trip to the disabled list.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said he doesn't expect to see Simmons play during this weekend's series against the National League-East leading Washington Nationals, with a DL decision likely not coming until Monday.

"I think we need to hold off a little bit," Gonzalez said. "We've done it before with other guys ... if push comes to shove and we lose another infielder, then we'll have to make a move."

Simmons was forced to leave Tuesday's series opener against the Mariners after he sprained his left ankle while stepping on third base. He limped off the field and was later seen in crutches.

Simmons underwent treatment with the Braves medical staff during Thursday's off day and when he returned for further therapy Friday, he saw a drastic change in how the ankle felt.

"I came in today and I'm not even limping that I notice, so it's a huge difference," Simmons said. "They're working on it trying to speed up the process and it's responding pretty good."

Simmons is seventh in the majors and first among all shortstops with 10 defensive runs saved and has a 13.1 defensive WAR, 11th-best in baseball and the Braves are taking every precaution to keep him on the active roster.

"It's one of those injuries where 15 days might be too much but six might be enough," Gonzalez said. "If we can avoid those 15 days with him, I would like to take a shot at it. There has to be a lot of communication back and forth -- from him telling us he is getting better."

Ramiro Pena has been at shortstop in Simmons' absence and was penciled in as the starter for the opener against the Nationals, who have a 4 1/2-game lead on the Braves in the division.

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