Andrelton Simmons shakes off slow start in 1st rehab.

May 7, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons (2) hits a two run RBI single in the fifth inning against Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
May 7, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons (2) hits a two run RBI single in the fifth inning against Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Andrelton Simmons took the field in Rancho Cucamonga for the Inland Empire 66’ers, the Angels Single-A affiliate and got thrown into fire right away batting second grounding into a double play, and botching a potential double-play ball.

Andrelton Simmons came down to the Single-A Inland Empire 66’ers to play his way back to the majors.  For Simmons it was his game in over a month and he had a shaky start grounding into a 5-4-3 double play on his first at-bat.  Later in the inning Simmons to a toss from 66’ers second baseman Tim Arakawa and try to do a quick transfer before he had control of the ball and the ball squirted away.  The base umpire ruled Simmons had control of it for long enough to get the force. (I think it was a major league courtesy call).  Later in the inning Simmons did field a routine grounder and toss it to Arakawa for the force out to end the first inning.

“It’s been a month, it feels longer,” Simmons said when I asked him about how he felt getting back on the field. “My first at-bat my timing was way off.  I was too antsy, was just trying to hit real quick. My second at-bat I calmed down felt better and saw the ball better and hit it hard. Third at-bat I didn’t hit the ball as hard as the other one, but I did what I wanted to do that at-bat, I just let the ball travel and I didn’t jump at the ball, it got better as the game went on.”

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Luckily for Simmons he was able to play four and a half more innings and he was able to redeem himself. In his second at-bat Simmons looked much more comfortable at the plate.  Despite falling behind Rancho Cucamonga Quakes Tommy Bergjans  no balls and two strikes, Simmons lashed a frozen rope to left-centerfield and hustled into second for a double.  The hit was the first of the game for the 66’ers.  Simmons would later score on a 2-out line drive single off the bat of Angels top prospect Taylor Ward to cut the Quakes lead to 2-1.

“It’s all good, feels good to be out there playing the game, getting some time in the box, fielding some grounders,” Simmons said, when I asked him about coming back from his layoff due to a torn ligament in his left thumb. Still got some work to do and have to get it stronger, but it went a lot better than I thought it was going to go.”

Ward would then move to third on a Michael Strentz bloop single and score on a Bergjans wild pitch to tie the game at 2.

“SImmons is awesome and he is a really good guy, really down to earth and will talk your ear off,” Ward said. “For our positon players like Hut (Hutton Moyer) and Tim Arakawa to have Simmons here is really for them. It’s sweet.”

Ward went one for four with an RBI and run scored in the game. Ward is trying to take things day by day and improve.

“Defensively I still look pretty sharp, I’ve felt pretty good all year defensively, offensively I’m still just coming around,” Ward said. “I had a bunt that I didn’t get down and I struck out in the first. It’s all right as it just a learning game. I hit a ball hard (single) so kind of look at that and get better from that.”

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In the top of the 6th inning Simmons got one final at-bat hitting a looping line drive single to left-center and he would come around to score later on a strange play.  Michael Strentz hit a line shot up the middle which looked like it had been caught by Quakes’ shortstop Erick Mejia, who leaped high in the air in an attempt to catch the ball. Simmons was almost to third base and came to a stop and then walk three steps to third base thinking the ball had been caught.  Only after the urging of 66’ers third base coach Ryan Barba did Simmons realize he could make it home to score the go-ahead run putting the 66’ers up 4-3.

Hutton Moyer, the son of former big league pitcher Jamie Moyer, who singled in a run earlier in the inning to drive in a run scored on a sacrifice fly by Wade WassZach Houchins then hit a two-run homer and all of the sudden the 66’ers were cruising up 7-3 and they would go on to an 8-5 victory.

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Moyer who has played shortstop and third base this season was impressed with Simmons’ play.

“I was perfectly fine with DHing tonight so I could sit and watch him (Simmons) and learn from him on how he plays the game and pick his brain during the game find out how he goes about his  business every day. It’s good stuff.” said Moyer who went 1 for 5 with an RBI said. “He is amazing to watch especially during BP as he was fielding ground balls making plays behind his back and overall just putting on a show.  It was impressive.”

Simmons would finish the game going two for three with a single and a double and two runs scored.  66’ers manager Chad Tracy was very pleased with what Simmons brought to the table on Monday night.

“Simmons looked pretty good tonight. He’s been great to have for our guys to have him around helping them out.  He’s been very gracious with his time,” said Tracy of Simmons. “He started off a little slow as he hasn’t played in a month, but he got better as the game went along and had a good first game.”

Next: David Huff thrown into the fire

Simmons is slated to play for the 66’ers tonight, but with the 66’ers having an off-day Wednesday he may join the Triple-A Salt Lake City Bees for a couple of games as they will be in Fresno playing the Fresno Grizzlies Wednesday and Thursday.  The hope is for Simmons to return to the Angels by sometime this weekend when the team returns home to play Cleveland