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BRAVES NOTES: Simmons shining for Netherlands in WBC

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Andrelton Simmons will be away for the World Baseball Classic the full three weeks, but neither he nor the Braves are complaining.

The young shortstop is one of the reasons that the Netherlands has reached the semifinals of the WBC beginning Sunday in San Francisco and he is benefiting experience-wise from the high-level competition.

Simmons hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth inning of the dramatic victory by the Dutch over Cuba in the second round at Tokyo and hit a leadoff homer the next day against Japan.

The 23-year-old native of Curacao batted .429 in the second round and was hitting .370 with seven RBIs in seven WBC games.

"There wouldn't be moments in spring training like that," Braves general manager Frank Wren said of Simmons' clutch homer against Cuba. "With all the risks (of the WBC) come the rewards and the rewards are seeing a guy come up in a big moment like that and come through."

Medlen fine after scare

Kris Medlen wasn't having any issues Thursday after being struck on the back of his pitching arm by a liner in the Braves' 2-1 victory over the Marlins in Jupiter on Wednesday night and is slated to make his next start as scheduled next week.

The right-hander left after 4 2/3 innings having allowed two hits and no runs while striking out three and walking none. The other hit went off his shoe.

"I feel fine," said Medlen, who threw 33 strikes in 49 pitches.

Medlen, who is set to pitch against the Pirates next Wednesday, has a 2.63 ERA in three spring starts. He has 10 strikeouts to two walks over 13 2/3 innings and opponents are batting just .196 against him.

Medlen came out of the game against the Marlins as a precaution, the pitcher and manager Fredi Gonzalez said.

"I don't expect a change in scheduling or anything like that," Medlen said of his upcoming work.

B.J. Upton off to hot start

B.J. Upton, who signed to $75.2 million, five-year deal with the Braves as a free agent, is certainly making a good first impression with his new team. He is hitting .429 and is 8-for-11 in his past four games.

For the spring, the center fielder has four doubles, a homer and seven RBIs in 15 games. He has three stolen bases, but has also been picked off first base twice.

Younger brother Justin Upton, acquired in a trade from Arizona, started the spring hot, but is just 2-for-18 in his past seven games. The left-fielder is hitting .231 with two doubles, two homers and eight RBIs in 15 games.

Defensively, one Upton bailed out another on Wednesday night against the Marlins. When B.J. lost a third-inning fly ball in the lights, Justin rushed over to make the catch.

Walden back on mound

Relief pitcher Jordan Walden threw bullpen sessions of 20 and 30 pitches on Tuesday and Wednesday, the first times he had been allowed on the mound since getting an epidural last week for a bulging disk.

Walden, obtained from the Angels in an offseason trade for Tommy Hanson, may be cleared for game action soon. His only Grapefruit League action came against the Yankees on Feb. 23.

Gilmartin sharp in showcase

Sean Gilmartin pitched in a spring training event for top prospects in St. Petersburg on Wednesday and allowed just one hit over four scoreless innings. The left-hander struck out three and walked two.

Gilmartin, the Braves' first-round draft pick in 2011, has made three Grapefruit League appearances, going 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA and six strikeouts to no walks in eight innings.