ATLANTA -- Mississippi catcher Christian Bethancourt, the Braves' No. 3 prospect according to MLB.com, returned to the lineup Friday night at Chattanooga after serving a three-game suspension handed down by the Double-A Southern League for his part in a benches-clearing incident last Saturday against Mobile.
Six players, including four M-Braves, drew suspensions after the ninth-inning brawl climaxed a game in which seven batters were hit by pitches.
Bethancourt tackled Rossmel Perez after the Mobile baserunner, angry about being hit earlier, took out Mississippi reliever Mike Tarsi as he tried to cover the plate on a wild pitch. Quickly, other players were squaring off.
Tarsi, fellow reliever Cory Rasmus and infielder Alden Carrithers joined Bethancourt in drawing three-game bans for Mississippi. The suspensions of Tarsi and Carrithers were delayed until after a series at Montgomery ended Thursday.
Perez was also suspended three games, along with Mobile teammate Alfredo Marte.
Simmons might not be back until September
ATLANTA -- Andrelton Simmons had the cast removed from his right hand on Friday and his fractured pinkie finger put in a removable splint. But it could be the beginning of September before the slick-fielding rookie shortstop returns to the Braves' lineup.
"It's not 100-percent healed yet," Simmons told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"I think it's going to be closer to eight weeks than six weeks," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "At the best it would be the last week of August."
Simmons was hurt on a headfirst slide in Philadelphia on July 9, as he hustled a single into a double. The 22-year-old native of Curacao was hitting .296 in 33 games and had solidified the Braves' infield defense.
But general manager Frank Wren was able to obtain Paul Janish in a trade from Cincinnati, and that has been able to cushion the loss of Simmons. Janish has been able to provide more than expected offensively, and he has rivaled Simmons in the field.
With his cast off, Simmons will be able to begin light physical therapy. But it will be a while before he is cleared for any baseball activity. Then a Minor League rehab assignment will follow.
Put to work early, Gearrin impresses since callup
ATLANTA -- With rain delays guaranteeing plenty of need for the Braves' bullpen against the Marlins, Cory Gearrin got immediate work in his first three days back from Triple-A Gwinnett.
The right-hander with the submarine delivery worked in each of the final three games of the four-game series with the Marlins, and pitched four scoreless innings while allowing two hits, walking none and striking out four.
"He looked like a different guy," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It was nice to see those three outings. We hope that continues. He would be a big piece for us."
Gearrin had been promoted twice previously by the Braves this season. But he didn't get into a game the first time, and appeared in just two during the second callup.
"I'm definitely more comfortable," said Gearrin, who pitched in 18 games with the Braves last season. "It felt really good coming back this time, and it was good to hit the ground running. I prefer the work. It's a lot better than sitting around and waiting."
Gearrin, 26, had to skip the Triple-A All-Star Game and missed almost three weeks with what was called upper biceps tendinitis. But he had pitched five times for Gwinnett since coming off the disabled list, and continued his fine Minor League work.
"A few days rest took care of it," Gearrin said of the soreness he had been experiencing.
Gearrin was 3-1 with eight saves and a 1.27 ERA in 33 games for the G-Braves. He had 57 strikeouts to 17 walks in 49 2/3 innings, and had limited Triple-A opponents to a .191 average.
Craig Kimbrel issued his first free pass since May 15 when he walked the Marlins' Bryan Petersen on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the ninth inning of the Braves' 6-1 victory Thursday night. He also allowed a one-out hit in the non-save situation, but ended up striking out the side. The string of no walks covered 27 innings.
Matt Diaz's right hand was placed in a new cast on Thursday, and he is scheduled to be examined again on Monday by Dr. Gary Lourie. The outfielder is trying to avoid surgery that would sideline him for the rest of the season. Diaz was placed on the disabled list July 21.
Peter Moylan, coming back from shoulder surgery, was activated from the disabled list at Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. He had appeared in nine games at three lower levels this season, posting a 1-1 record and 7.20 ERA in 10 innings. Moylan was 2-1 with a save and 3.24 ERA in 13 games with Atlanta last year.
Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.