Jason Heyward (.214/.317/.407, seven homers and 14 RBI) is currently on the disabled list due to a shoulder injury, but that hasn't stopped some of the Braves' players from saying that Heyward should be trying to play through the pain. Veteran and future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones (.251/.346/.414, five homers and 32 RBI) was one of them:
"I think where Jason might have erred was the comment that he made, 'I'm not coming back until it doesn't hurt anymore.' That has a tendency to rub people the wrong way," Jones told the [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. "And we understand where he's coming from—he wants to be healthy when he plays, so he can go out and give himself the best opportunity to be successful. I get that.
"What Jason needs to realize is that Jason at 80 percent is a force, and Jason at 80 percent is better than a lot of people in this league. And that there are a bunch of his teammates that are out there playing with discomfort and not healthy, and still going at it."
Heyward is a very, very important player for the Braves, and no one will question that. Does he need to come back if he's not fully healthy and risk aggravating the injury?
I agree with what Chipper says; if Heyward is at least 80 percent, he needs to come back. The Braves offense is horrible right now, and even if Heyward isn't the best that he can be, he would still be very useful to the team. Before his injury became known to the public on May 10, the Braves scored 4.2 runs per game—since then only 3.1. That alone should show how important even a rather hurt and poor Heyward is for the team.
Does that answer my original question? Yes, Chipper has merit to say this. Some will call out Chipper on how he has handled injuries recently, but let's not forget that Chipper recently turned 39, while Heyward is 21. That has to make a little bit of a difference. Not to mention that Chipper is the veteran on this team and has one of the best careers in franchise history. He can pretty much say what he wants to.
Chipper should have dealt with this behind closed doors, and there is a good chance that he has already. I don't think that Heyward would take it the wrong way, because it is true. This team needs Jason Heyward, and it needs him badly to produce, even if it is short of what he did last season.