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    Braves sign SS Andrelton Simmons to 7-year extension

    Gold Glove-winning shortstop Andrelton Simmons is the fifth Brave to reach a multiyear agreement this offseason.
    alex brandon/associated press
    Gold Glove-winning shortstop Andrelton Simmons is the fifth Brave to reach a multiyear agreement this offseason.

    The 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 reigning NL East champions.

    The deal, which runs through the 2020 season, is the largest ever awarded to a non-foreign player 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 defense. 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.

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    The Braves this month also reached multiyear agreements with first baseman Freddie Freeman, outfielder Jason Heyward, closer Craig Kimbrel, and righthander 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.

    Braun back in fold

    Hands crossed behind his back, Ryan Braun stepped up in front of the cameras and reporters ready to take the hits. A long-awaited day had finally arrived: the Brewers slugger is officially back with his team for the first time since being suspended for 65 games for violating Major League Baseball’s anti-drug agreement as part of the Biogenesis doping scandal.


    ‘‘I took responsibility for that mistake I made,’’ Braun said in Phoenix. ‘‘For me, my focus again is on this year and moving forward and learning a new position and getting ready for the season.’’

    One that includes a move from left to right field, and questions about whether Braun is over the right thumb injury that also limited him in 2013.

    ‘‘I feel good, but like I said it’s always a challenge getting use to facing pitching again and seeing curveballs and sliders and some spin on the ball,’’ Braun said about his thumb. ‘‘There’s always an adjustment phase but I feel pretty good.’’

    Harrison has setback

    Matt Harrison had been throwing for a couple of months with no problems when he got to spring training, ready to come back after making only two starts for the Rangers last season. On the first day of full-squad workouts Thursday, the former All-Star lefthander had back stiffness that prevented him from throwing batting practice. The Rangers planned an MRI for Harrison, and the pitcher is also expected to return to Texas for an examination by the doctor who did two operations on his back last year . . . Super Bowl winning-quarterback Russell Wilson is going to spring training. Wilson sent a tweet telling Rangers fans he would see them in Surprise, Ariz., on March 3. Wilson played minor league baseball as a second baseman for parts of two seasons before going back to college to play football. The Rangers have said Wilson has an open invitation. It is unclear if Wilson will participate in any on-field activities or just visit . . . Mets ace Matt Harvey was cleared to start playing catch only four months after having reconstructive elbow surgery. The 24-year-old righthander was examined by team doctor David Altchek at the Mets’ spring training facility Wednesday. Harvey, who had surgery Oct. 22, stretched with pitchers and catchers on Thursday for the first time this spring.