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Braves righty Simmons undergoes Tommy John surgery

Atlanta may turn to newcomers as primary setup men for Kimbrel

ATLANTA -- Braves right-handed reliever Shae Simmons will miss the upcoming season as he recovers from Tommy John elbow surgery, which was performed by Dr. James Andrews on Thursday afternoon.

Simmons felt elbow discomfort while completing a bullpen session in Missouri last week. The 24-year-old missed the final two months of the 2014 season due to right shoulder discomfort.

While Atlanta was hopeful that Simmons would avoid this surgery, it spent the past few days gaining some insurance by signing veteran relievers Jose Veras and Todd Coffey to Minor League contracts.

If Simmons would have been healthy, he might have teamed with Jason Grilli to serve as closer Craig Kimbrel's primary setup men. Veras seems quite capable of filling that role if he pitches like he did after being traded by the Cubs to the Astros last year. The Braves are also hoping Jim Johnson bounces back from a rough 2014 season and regains the successful form he had when he was an All-Star closer for the Orioles in '12.

Video: [email protected]: Veras fans four over two shutout innings

Simmons made his Major League debut on May 31, and he proceeded to post a 0.96 ERA while limiting opponents to a .239 on-base percentage through his first 20 appearances. But he started to struggle when his shoulder began bothering him in July.

Simmons was placed on the disabled list on July 29 with what was diagnosed as a right shoulder strain. He made an unsuccessful comeback attempt during a rehab stint a month later, and then he had some more reason for concern when he experienced more shoulder soreness while working out at the club's Spring Training facility after the season was complete.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for
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