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Simmons' travel schedule poses potential difficulties

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Andrelton Simmons might play just one exhibition game with the Braves before making the long trip to Taiwan to prepare for the start of the World Baseball Classic. Simmons will bat leadoff and play shortstop for The Netherlands.

Simmons is scheduled to begin his long trip from Orlando, Fla., to Asia a little after 6 p.m. ET on Saturday. The talented shortstop will be in the lineup when the Braves open their Grapefruit League season against the Tigers on Friday afternoon.

But because of the travel schedule, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he might not play Simmons in Saturday afternoon's game against the Yankees.

The Netherlands will practice as a team next week and begin play in Pool B on March 2. If the team advances to the second round, Simmons would stay in Asia until at least March 9. That sets up the possibility that there might be two weeks left in the spring slate when he rejoins the Braves.

"I think the thing that scares all the managers and coaches is not that they won't get there work in," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's competing at a high level when they might not be ready yet. There's nothing you can do about that."

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel is expected to leave Braves camp by March 3 to join Team USA in Phoenix. Team USA's first round play does not begin until March 8.