Updates from Saturday, August 2
Braves Radio Network's Kevin McAlpin reports on Heyward's return:
Updates from Friday, August 1
Mark Bowman of MLB.com has the latest news on Heyward's status:
Heyward says he started to feel some relief in his back tonight. Might return to the lineup on Saturday.— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) August 1, 2014
Updates from Wednesday, July 30
David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has the newest update on Jason Heyward:
Jason Heyward’s sore back kept him out of the the Braves lineup for a second consecutive game Wednesday, and manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would probably give the right fielder one more day once Heyward says the back feels ready.
If that’s the case then the earliest Heyward would return to the lineup would be for the series opener at San Diego on Friday. Jordan Schafer started in right field Wednesday for the first time all season, after Ryan Doumit filled in Tuesday for Heyward.
“We talked about it today and he’s still not feeling well,” Gonzalez said of Heyward. “If he comes in tomorrow and he’s not feeling well, I’m not doing it, I’m not running him in there.”
Heyward is not in Wednesday's lineup against the Dodgers, according to the Braves' Twitter account:
First pitch coming from Dodger Stadium at 10:10 EST! pic.twitter.com/bRHTTqiIR4— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 30, 2014
David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously had the latest on Heyward:
Right fielder Jason Heyward was out of the Braves lineup for Tuesday’s series opener against the Dodgers with lingering soreness in his lower back. He hoped to be back in the lineup Wednesday.
Heyward said he strained the back while pursuing a foul ball Thursday.
“I felt it grab me,” he said. “I was like, alright, I’ve had this before. But it just never really loosened up in the next couple of days. I tried to go yesterday but it just didn’t happen.”
“And I’m sure the flight coming across the country didn’t help him at all,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, referring to the 4 ½-hour haul from Atlanta to Los Angeles after Monday’s game. “Another day or two (and he should be back). I talked to him a little bit, he didn’t seem to think it’s anything major.”
At the end of a hot July where he finally found his swing again, outfielder Jason Heyward has suffered a back injury that took him out of the Atlanta Braves lineup on Monday afternoon against the San Diego Padres.
The Braves' official account reported the news on Twitter:
Jason Heyward left this afternoon's game with lower back soreness.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 28, 2014
Joe Morgan of MLB.com provides more details on the injury:
After evaluation from team doctors, #Braves say Jason Heyward is day-to-day with lower back soreness.— Joe Morgan (@joe_morgan) July 28, 2014
Morgan later talked to Heyward about his condition:
Heyward said he first felt something in his lower back in the field on Thursday. But he said it's "nothing major." #Braves— Joe Morgan (@joe_morgan) July 28, 2014
Heyward hasn't ruled out playing tomorrow, but he wants to see how his back responds after the team's flight today. #Braves— Joe Morgan (@joe_morgan) July 28, 2014
Heyward, 24, has experienced an up-and-down season thus far, but he found his groove in the last month. He has a .260 average with nine home runs and 42 RBI, helping those numbers with a .313 average and 12 RBI in July.
Despite his erratic numbers, Heyward has been a crucial member of the Braves this season thanks to his play in the field and at the plate. Manager Fredi Gonzalez spoke about Heyward's play this season, per Mark Simon of ESPN.com:
“Jason is a real game-changer in the outfield,” Gonzalez said. “With the things he can do to beat you, he can change a game just by his pure presence in the field. There are not too many outfielders in our league who have that type of impact on the game.”
Heyward was replaced in the lineup by Ryan Doumit, per David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
#Braves Doumit replaces Heyward in right field to start 4th inn. No word yet on reason.— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) July 28, 2014
Heading into Monday's game against the Padres, the Braves are 1.5 games behind the surging Washington Nationals. Without Heyward and his MLB-leading 2.88 defensive WAR, the team will need others to step up.
Reuters shares a little more on the outfielder's play this season:
The Atlanta native has been hot at the plate since the All-Star Game. Entering Friday’s game, Heyward has hit .404 in his past 13 outings.
... Even when Heyward wasn’t effective as a hitter, he contributed as a baserunner and a fielder. That is partially why he was selected as the Atlanta nominee for the “Heart and Hustle Award” that is given to the player who shows passion for the game.
There has been no word on the severity of the injury or how long Heyward will be out, but his impact on the team is clear.
If he is forced to miss time, the offense would lose a versatile player. He has batted leadoff this season but has mostly been the No. 5 hitter thanks to his power—making him an offensive player the team can't afford to lose.
With his quality defense in the outfield, the pitching staff might also be affected. With myriad injuries already this season, the staff has been held together but could suffer without Heyward roaming right field.
Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.