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Simmons draws praise from Tulo, Weiss

ATLANTA -- When the Braves hosted the Rockies at Turner Field over the weekend, it was a matchup of two of the game's best shortstops: Major League batting leader Troy Tulowitzki and defending Gold Glove Award winner Andrelton Simmons.

After losing two of three in Atlanta, Tulowitzki came away impressed with what he saw from his younger counterpart.

"He's a great shortstop," Tulowitzki said. "Defensively, he's special. That arm he has is one of a kind and he's going to be good for a long time."

Colorado was shut out for only the second time this season in Sunday's 7-0 loss, but it nearly generated two big innings against Braves starter Julio Teheran. Charlie Blackmon and Michael Cuddyer led off the game with back-to-back singles before Teheran settled down and retired Tulowitzki and the heart of the lineup in order.

The Rockies, however, felt the sting of Simmons in the second. With runners on second and third, the speedy Blackmon knuckled a slow roller to short.

A charging Simmons made it look easy, scooping up the roller and firing to first, beating Blackmon by half a step to get out of the inning and preserve the shutout.

Simmons also dazzled in defeat, nabbing the speedy Drew Stubbs, who has ranked among the National League's top 10 in stolen bases three of the past four seasons, on a slow chopper to short in the first inning of Saturday's 3-1 loss to Colorado.

"The Simmons kid looks like a [heck] of a player," said Rockies manager Walt Weiss, who played shortstop as a member of the Braves from 1998-2000. "Looks like he's going to be a good one for a long time."

With the first ballot update for this year's All-Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis looming, Tulowitzki and Simmons are candidates to appear among the top five in voting numbers among the NL's shortstops.

As far as choosing between the two, Tulowitzki acknowledges he and Simmons provide two contrasting but good choices for NL fans.

"To compare us wouldn't be fair to either of us," Tulowitzki said. "We play a little bit different. He's great at what he does, and I try to be my own guy out there."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for
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