Atlanta Braves: Chipper Optimistic That Heyward Can Bounce Back

Blake SilversAnalyst IIIFebruary 17, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 03: Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves talks with teammate Chipper Jones #10 during the Braves game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 3, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

In a recent interview with Atlanta's 790 The Zone, Chipper Jones spoke in depth about teammate Jason Heyward, who had a tough second season with the Braves in 2011.  

"I’m worried about his confidence," Jones told the Mayhem in the A.M. crew. "It’s the first thing I asked him when we started hitting; where’s your mind at?"

Heyward, who has been working directly with his future Hall of Fame teammate this offseason, was a serious Rookie of the Year contender in his debut season, but ended up on the bench, in a platoon situation for the majority of 2011.  

Chipper says he's been asking Heyward questions like "are you confident, are you excited about the changes you’re making?"  The veteran seems to believe that Heyward is certainly heading in the right direction mechanically, but still has concerns about his mental state.  

"I’m seeing progress, and I’m seeing balls jump off the bat like I did in 2010," said Jones.  "Quite frankly, I didn’t see that last year and that worries me, but that worry quickly went away when I went back and watched some film of him in 2010 and saw that he was as fundamentally sound mechanically at the plate as any great hitter you’ll see in the big leagues."

The Braves certainly hope that Heyward can get back to the high level he broke into the league at, hitting a home run in his first major league swing, and staying hot his entire rookie season. Jason went from a phenom rookie All-Star right fielder to a platoon outfielder in less than a year, which certainly aided in the Braves epic season-ending collapse of last season.  

Though concerns linger, Chipper seems optimistic that the young hitter can bounce back.

"Once I knew the mechanics once were there, I knew we’d get back to it, and once he saw it and we compared the two swings, it was like a light bulb went off.  He’s not all the way back yet.  He’s hitting balls at 85, 90 percent.”

If Jason Heyward can find a way to bounce back in 2012, he can quickly put the memories of his disappointing sophomore year in the past and move on.