Simmons has four Gold Gloves and a Platinum Glove, and despite being lanky, skin-and-bones and bow-legged, is as graceful of a fielder as fans are ever likely to see … On perfectly flat ground, that is.
Just don’t let Simmons around any concrete steps or the first-base bag.
For the third straight season, Simmons suffered a fluky injury to an ankle. Speaking to reporters briefly on Thursday while the Angels took on the Seattle Mariners, Simmons sounded upbeat.
“I’m pretty optimistic,” Simmons said. “I’m starting to be able to move around way better than the first two nights.
“It’s not as bad s the last one, for sure.”
Simmons tweaked his left ankle while lunging toward first base, trying to beat out a hit on Monday against the Oakland Athletics.
He caught the rear side of the bag awkwardly and spilled to the dirt and had to be helped from the field. He was placed on the 10-day Injury List.
Last year’s injury came on a nearly identical play — with Simmons lunging in a desperate attempt to beat a throw at first base and coming down on the ankle in a heap.
The ankle injury last year cost the Angels five weeks of Simmons’ services while the shortstop recovered.
Simmons is moving around without crutches most of the time unless he has to walk long distances. The team and Simmons didn’t announce a timeline for his return this time, but the shortstop didn’t have an MRI exam on the injury.
“I’ve been down this road once or twice — I have a pretty decent idea of what’s going on,” Simmons said.
Two seasons ago, an injury to the ankle caused the Angels to miss Simmons for more than a week in a crucial early-season stretch.
In that instance, Simmons was simply coming in from the field after the end of an inning, wasn’t paying attention as he clattered into the third-base side of the dugout, and slipped clumsily on the dugout steps.
Simmons, 30, is one of baseball’s premier defenders. Since his debut in 2012 for the Atlanta Braves, Simmons’ leads all major players at all positions in Defensive Runs Saved with 192. Tampa Bay centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier trails Simmons in DRS in second with 115.
A solid offensive presence, he was off to a slow start offensively in this pandemic-shortened season. He was hitting .188 after four games with a double.
Simmons is a free agent this winter and could use a big season in a contract year. The Angels and Simmons have not been in negotiations on a contract extension for the glove wizard.
Simmons retained his sense of humor about the latest setback on Thursday. After so many troubles with his ankles, he said he had a plan if a similar play at first base were to happen again.
“Diving in head first,” Simmons joked. Since the injury, leadoff hitter David Fletcher has been manning the shortstop position for the Halos.