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ATLANTA - The Atlanta Braves and shortstop Andrelton Simmons agreed on a $58 million,
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ATLANTA - The Atlanta Braves and shortstop Andrelton Simmons agreed on a $58 million, seven-year contract on Thursday, a record deal for the latest young star locked up by the NL East champions. The deal, which runs through the 2020 season, is the largest ever awarded to a player subject to American draft rules with less than two years of service time. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo signed a $41 million, seven-year contract last May. Simmons, 24, showed power potential in 2013, when he hit 17 home runs, but he earned the big contract with his defence. He won his first Gold Glove award in 2013, when he led the major leagues with 499 assists. "We feel that Andrelton is one of the premier shortstops in the game today, and we are happy that we were able to agree on this multiyear contract," general manager Frank Wren said in a statement released by the team. The Braves this month also reached multiyear agreements with first baseman Freddie Freeman, outfielder Jason Heyward, closer Craig Kimbrel and right-hander Julio Teheran, committing $280.7 million to the rising stars, including Simmons. Simmons hit .248 and drove in 59 runs last season. He earned the new contract after playing in only 206 career games. Simmons received a $1 million signing bonus and will earn $1 million this season. He will earn $3 million in 2015, $6 million in 2016, $8 million in 2017, $11 million in 2018, $13 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020. It has been a busy month for the Braves and Wren. On Sunday, the team agreed to a $42 million, four-year contract with Kimbrel, 25, the All-Star closer. That came two days after the 23-year-old Teheran agreed to terms on a six-year, $32.4 million deal. Earlier this month, the Braves announced multiyear deals with a pair of 24-year-old hitters — Freeman and Heyward. Freeman, the All-Star first baseman, agreed to the biggest contract in Braves history — $135 million for eight years. Of all the new deals, only Heywards is for fewer than four years. Heyward, the outfielder who won his first Gold Glove in 2012, signed for two years and $13.3 million. Even management has been included in the wave of new deals. Manager Fredi Gonzalez and Wren also have been given contract extensions. Simmons ranks with Freeman, Kimbrel, Teheran, Heyward, Justin Upton, left-hander Mike Minor and others as the foundation for the Braves future. Chipper Jones retired after the 2012 season, and Tim Hudson and catcher Brian McCann departed as free agents after last season, leaving the team that won 96 games last year with a young roster. Simmons hit only .216 against left-handers last season, and he hit only .219 in 283 at-bats as a leadoff hitter. The team took off when Heyward was moved to the leadoff spot, and Simmons was more productive in other spots in the lineup. 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Michael Johnson Jersey .Y. - The New York Rangers have reached a one-year contract extension with goalie Cam Talbot, keeping Henrik Lundqvists backup away from unrestricted free agency.CINCINNATI – The late, great Earl Weaver once was asked about momentum and whether it existed in baseball. “Momentum is only as good as the next days starter,” the long-time Baltimore Orioles manager famously quipped. Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons was smacked in the face with that truth on Saturday. Less than 24 hours after his club staged the second biggest comeback in franchise history, winning 14-9 on Friday night in a game it had trailed 8-0, J.A. Happ (6-4) imploded on the mound and the Reds won a laugher 11-1. “He didnt have it today,” said Gibbons. “We really never had a chance. You know, just kind of sucked the wind out of us right away but, hey, we move on. Show up tomorrow.” Happ got the first two outs of the first inning. Reasonably quickly, too, as Billy Hamilton grounded out and Todd Frazier lined out. Then, inexplicably, Happ fell apart. He walked Joey Votto. He walked Brandon Phillips. He walked Jay Bruce to load the bases. Ryan Ludwick smacked a two-run single to centerfield, scoring Votto and Phillips. Happ walked Devin Mesoraco. Finally, Ramon Santiago grounded out to end Happs 37-pitch first inning. Whatever the events of Friday night had done to ease the burden of an ugly sweep in New York, Happ had put his team in another hole and this time the offence couldnt climb its way out. “I was trying to be too fine, maybe, or what Im not sure,” said Happ. “I let three guys go and then the base hit, kind of a tough way to start. I tried to be aggressive after that, but we didnt have a ton for them today and that started with me.” Jay Bruce hit a solo home run in the third, the Reds scored four more times on three singles and two doubles in the fourth and Happs day was done. So was the Blue Jays afternoon; they could muster only a Colby Rasmus solo home run in the seventh off of Reds starter Mike Leake (5-6). REYES LEAVES WITH KNEE BRUISE Jose Reyes wont start on Sunday after fouling a ball off his left knee in the fifth inning of Saturdays loss to the Reds. He didnt take his shortstop position after finishing his at-bat, replaced by Steve Tolleson. He doesnt think its serious. “I hit it pretty good there, but its not a big deal,” said Reyes. Reyes confirmed hed already been approached by manager John Gibbons, who informed him that he wouldnt be in Sundays starting lineup. Reyes is hitless in his last 12 at-bats and Gibbons suggested a breather could do his shortstop good. RASMUS ON A ROLL Colby Rasmus is off to a nice start since coming off the disabled list in time for Wednesdays game at Yankee Stadium. In four games, hes 6-for-14 with a home run and two doubles. He drew a walk, a crucial one at that, leading off the ninth inning of Friday nights improbable come-from-behind, 14-9 victory over the Reds. He scored the winning run on an Erik Kratz double. Rasmus missed 33 games with a strained right hamstring. He didnt waste time while he was hurt. He went to work in the gym and he credits his easy transition into the lineup to increased strength. “Going on the DL, Im able to put a little weight on and get stronger and lift (weights) and do a lot more things that Im not able to do when Im playing because, when Im playing, its hard to get those good lifts in where you can be sore the next day,” said Rasmus. “You dont want to mess yourself up. I was able to get stronger and that helps.” The Blue Jays went 23-10 in Rasmus absence, for most of the stretch maximizing the potentiall of the Anthony Gose-Kevin Pillar centrefield platoon.dddddddddddd What Gose gave the Blue Jays with speed on the bases and defensively in centre, he couldnt make up for the power threat of Rasmuss bat. As the club began to struggle and the power numbers regressed to normalcy, it became clear how much Rasmus was missed. Hes back and hes resumed the same approach he brought into spring training. “Im not letting any pressures make me feel pressure,” said Rasmus. “In the past, when I was younger, people tried to always light a fire under me because Im kind of chilled and just kind of laid back, quiet and they always tried to make me get real amped up and it didnt help me none because I drove myself crazy wanting to do good. Id get myself so amped up and then not do good and the let down can break you down over time. I try to stay away from that, put me some country music on and stay relaxed, slowed down and then the game will speed me up.” On that crucial walk Rasmus drew against Reds flamethrower Aroldis Chapman on Friday night, he went up to the plate looking to greet one of Chapmans famous heaters, which consistently top 100 miles per hour. “Im looking for cheddar cheese balls,” said Rasmus, referencing one of his many nicknames for the fastball. “I mean, it is what it is, you cant worry about his offspeed stuff even though hes got a good slider, a good change-up.” NAVARRO JUBILANT AS MESSI SCORES Dioner Navarro is a fan of Argentine soccer great Lionel Messi. That, in fact, may be an understatement. Navarro wears a Messi jersey underneath his batting practice jersey everyday. Hes got the schedule laid out, too. When Messi is playing for his club team, FC Barcelona, Navarro sports the striped, red and blue home jersey. Currently, with Messi captaining Argentina in the World Cup, hes wearing Messis Argentine attire. When Messi scored in extra time to lead Argentina over Iran, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon, Navarro sprung up from a clubhouse couch and did a lap of the room, high-fiving teammates along the way. For Navarro, the game was too close for comfort. “I just got a few more greys on my head,” said Navarro. “What a goal.” Navarro admits his infatuation with Messi is strange, especially because its uncommon for one professional athlete to fawn over another. The admiration began about a decade ago. “Back home, Venezuela, we grew up and we didnt have much money,” said Navarro. “We had only the local (television) channels and my parents were trying to get us as far away from whatever they were showing us on TV, violence and all that stuff back home. We used to get the games from Spain and I kind of grew up watching the games from Barcelona and, when Messi stepped in, he was 17 years old the first time. Every year he keeps growing. He keeps doing unbelievable things.” Argentinas win was as much a relief to Navarro as it was a thrill. Hed been getting grief from his teammates. “They were all over me, oh my gosh,” said Navarro. “The last thing I wanted was it to be tight because I knew everybody was going to be talking smack to me. Messi came through.” ROSTER MOVE The Blue Jays optioned right-handed pitcher Liam Hendriks to Triple-A Buffalo before Saturdays game. Left-handed reliever Rob Rasmussen was recalled from the Bisons, which marks his second stint with the Blue Jays this season. Rasmussen made four appearances from May 20-29. He pitched two innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out two. 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