Heyward doesn’t disappoint in Grapefruit opener

Port St. Lucie, Fla. – Jason Heyward made a full impact in 4-1/2 innings Tuesday in the opening game of a Braves spring training that feels like the beginning of the J-Hey Era.

The rookie from McDonough reached base in all three plate appearances and was alert on the bases in a 4-2 Braves loss against the New York Mets on Tuesday.

“Three really good at-bats,” manager Bobby Cox said of Heyward, who walked in the first inning, singled and stole a base in the third, and walked in the fifth.

Braves starter Tommy Hanson and Kris Medlen each pitched two scoreless innings of one-hit ball, and the Braves led 1-0 through four. But a patchwork Mets lineup rocked Jesse Chavez for three runs in the fifth in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams.

Postgame discussion in the Braves’ clubhouse centered around Hanson, last year’s Braves rookie phenom, and Heyward, this year’s model and baseball’s top-rated prospect.

“Everybody knows he belongs,” catcher Brian McCann said of Heyward, Baseball American’s 2009 minor league Player of the Year. “It’s just a matter of getting used to the big-league pitching, how quick the adjustments are made.

“But he’s the best 20-year-old I’ve ever seen.”

He didn’t hit any tape-measure homers like he has during car-denting batting-practice displays at Braves camp. But he scorched a single down the right-field line that drew a few oohs and ahhs.

Former Mets star and broadcaster Keith Hernandez called it a “Willy McCovey shot,” and Cox said it was “the hardest-hit single you’re ever going to see in your life.”

Cox seemed more pleased by something that’s not in the boxscore: Heyward, at 6 feet 5 and 245 pounds, hurried to second base on wild pitches in the first and fifth innings.

“He went to second twice on balls in the dirt, just like he did last spring,” Cox said. “And he stole a base. He did everything good today.”

Heyward stole third in the third inning, showing good speed and quickness for someone so large.

“I try to play the game right, do whatever it takes,” said Heyward, known as “J-Hey” at Henry County High School. “That’s a situation where the guy’s at the plate and we’ve got an opportunity to be on third base with less than two [outs].

“As far as speed goes, I just want to do whatever it takes to win. I don’t want to ever slack off on that [speed], because that’s always something that can help.”

Cox said: “He’s not a [prolific] base stealer, but he can steal bases. Because he works at it. Instinctively, he can shuffle off and go. That’s what we teach all the time. Some guys get it, some don’t. That’s why he’s ahead of the game.”

His combination of power and high on-base percentage are what separate Heyward from many hitting prospects, but it’s defense and little things that Cox said could be what wins him the right-field job despite his lack of experience.

Heyward is 20 and has only 173 at-bats above the Class-A level in the minors.

“He’s solid in the outfield,” Cox said. “Solid arm, solid runner, and solid defense. And we know he’s going to hit.

“He’s a guy, if he doesn’t hit he helps you in the field.”

91 comments Add your comment

Michael

March 2nd, 2010
5:40 pm

Hey DOB what did J-Hey hit last spring?
Thanks!

Get real

March 2nd, 2010
5:45 pm

The Braves did what little they did against Met scrubs. So what?

Fish Bisch

March 2nd, 2010
5:46 pm

Go Haywood Go!

Johnny Hazeltine

March 2nd, 2010
5:47 pm

Here in Vegas, I’m buying the baseball package just to see the J-Hey Show!

Really?

March 2nd, 2010
5:47 pm

Can people not read?

Excited

March 2nd, 2010
5:49 pm

Looks like the Heyward hype is for real and whatever Chavez hype there was is gone…

Fish Bisch

March 2nd, 2010
5:51 pm

yeah! gosh, why can’t people read? You don’t have to read to enjoy the Haywood show! That was amazing.

Alaska Braves Fan

March 2nd, 2010
5:59 pm

I love baseball and I love cheering on the Braves. So, am I constantly going to be bombarded by bone-headed negativism on these blogs? I want to stick around for the conversation, but there’s a difference between realistic evaluation and just being nasty, and I find the latter hard to stomach. I get enough of that in the regular news.

ABF

Jorge_Vino

March 2nd, 2010
6:04 pm

Alaska – Just ignore the comments. That’s what I do. Some of these rubes don’t even know the guy’s name.

shawn

March 2nd, 2010
6:05 pm

I think that Hayward is going to be our strating right fielder. I am still not sure how much it would hurt us not having a true lead off hitter. I guess that time will tell..

shadetree

March 2nd, 2010
6:09 pm

The season will be exciting.

I would like to see Yunel show anothers years worth of growing up, Prado to have that solid year to make himself a legitimate starter. J-Hey in right, Melky in left ( a jewel I tell you), and move Nate down in the order. He’s not a lead-off hitter. Shoot, let J-Hey lead.

J-Hey
Prado
Chipper
Glaus
McCann
Yunel
Nate
Melky

Now that’s awesome.

GO Bravos!!!!

Really?

March 2nd, 2010
6:11 pm

Senator Blutarski

March 2nd, 2010
6:13 pm

All right! Nothing like rooting in spring training for a Braves team that has some interesting potential. There’s something Americana/Norman Rockwell about spring baseball.

Bravos10

March 2nd, 2010
6:14 pm

Braves are gonna be strong this year I can feel it

Some Sense

March 2nd, 2010
6:15 pm

Awesome???

Who’s gonna get any hits???

LetsGoBraves!

March 2nd, 2010
6:16 pm

Haha World Series or Bust! Bobby’s last year make it special! Let’s Go Braves!!!

RealSense

March 2nd, 2010
6:17 pm

Are you questioning our lineup?

Scorby Jones

March 2nd, 2010
6:26 pm

Did Bobby call for Heyward to steal, or did J-Hey make the call on his own?? Esco was saying that he wants to steal 20 or so bases this year, too… between them, McLouth, Diaz, and the random McCann theft, it should be fun to watch!

collegedude

March 2nd, 2010
6:28 pm

When did we cease being the Atlanta Braves and become the Atlanta Heyward’s? If you didn’t know about O’Brien’s man-crush, you’d swear there was only 1 person that had reported to Braves camp this spring.

HaHa

March 2nd, 2010
6:31 pm

Other players already reported?

Fish Bisch

March 2nd, 2010
6:32 pm

Haywood has killer instincts; he doesn’t need a coach to tell him what bags to swipe. I gathered from the articles today that he was alert on the base paths.

lee

March 2nd, 2010
6:34 pm

i hope the braves can come to their senses and trade Melky before the season starts—there is no power there–come on!! and he seems like atlanta is last place he wants to be!! and as far as what a great pic Chavez is—who evaluated him and what were they drinking??????

AKT163

March 2nd, 2010
6:34 pm

DOB, do you feel that there is a bigger hype around everyday players rather than pitchers? Hanson got a lot of hype last spring, but not like Heyward is getting right now.

DP

March 2nd, 2010
6:35 pm

Given the lack of attractive options, why not consider batting Heyward leadoff this year? His history suggests he’s a high OBP guy who works the pitcher, and he can run the bases. Longer term he figures to be a #3 or #4 hitter but based on what I’ve read he hits a lot of line drives and may not reach his potential as a home run hitter for a few years.

aps

March 2nd, 2010
6:36 pm

I think Brad Komminsk had one good spring training game also.

wjones

March 2nd, 2010
6:49 pm

aps

“March 2nd, 2010
6:36 pm
I think Brad Komminsk had one good spring training game also.

Link Report this comment ”

I guess that was directed toward Heyward. Ok, then, I will direct one toward Chavez. I think that Greg Maddux had one BAD Spring training game also.

See how you can play this game both ways? And not always sound like Droopy?

The Grinch

March 2nd, 2010
7:02 pm

WTF? End the Chavez experiment? Are you people serious? Never mind; don’t answer that.

fieldofdreams

March 2nd, 2010
7:06 pm

If they gambled a half a season on Schaefer last year then J-Hey must be worth all 162 games.

The Grinch

March 2nd, 2010
7:10 pm

Hey, now; Droopy was cool.

Rock On......

March 2nd, 2010
7:14 pm

Just clicked through and caught a few ininngs of the game today. One observation…if that was Chavez’s best then I doubt he will be much help to the Bravos. Rare back and fire won’t cut it no matter how hard you throw. I have been watching high school pitchers over the last few years better than that. But it is early so maybe he will settle in. Can’t put too much into one outing but the man has a way to go in teh bigs.

Link Report this comment Rock On……

March 2nd, 2010
7:11 pm
Huge game for the Jackets tonight. Their NCAA hopes may well hinge on this game. Win and they are in. It is inconceivable that a team with 20

Rock On......

March 2nd, 2010
7:15 pm

so much for the cut and paste

Rock On......

March 2nd, 2010
7:17 pm

Did somebody actually mention Braves and stealing bases in the same post? Astounding.

Coach (2011 or Bust)

March 2nd, 2010
7:32 pm

Cox said: “He’s not a [prolific] base stealer, but he can steal bases. Because he works at it. Instinctively, he can shuffle off and go. That’s what we teach all the time. Some guys get it, some don’t. That’s why he’s ahead of the game.”

Horse manure!

I’ll ask again, why is it our Braves are and have been the slowest team in the big leagues five years running?

RHR

March 2nd, 2010
7:35 pm

He’s a guy, if he doesn’t hit he helps you in the field.”

Oh ok.

RHR

March 2nd, 2010
7:36 pm

Hey Coach, heard from Josh Anderson lately?

RHR

March 2nd, 2010
7:38 pm

If you didn’t know about O’Brien’s man-crush, you’d swear there was only 1 person that had reported to Braves camp this spring.

Hey now, I have it on good authority that DOB also has a man crush on Billy Wagner, Chipper, and Peter Moylan.

The Grinch

March 2nd, 2010
7:55 pm

David’s crush on Wags is because he actually rocks the Marlboro Man look instead of faking it.

Alaska Braves Fan

March 2nd, 2010
8:00 pm

Jorge_Vino: Thanks! I’m sure you’re right.

ABF

BPennington

March 2nd, 2010
8:06 pm

I fully support man crushes on J-Hey. My bromance for the guy is off the charts. I recommend everyone do the same.

native atlantan

March 2nd, 2010
8:07 pm

DOB- Has any one called Jason Heyward the Jay-Hey kid yet? if not…. FIRST!

BPennington

March 2nd, 2010
8:08 pm

Native, That has been floated out there and I’m pretty sure it’s been voted down.

bob horner

March 2nd, 2010
8:20 pm

What does bromance mean..?? also..DOB IS THE MARLBORO MAN

count_schemula

March 2nd, 2010
8:27 pm

Heyward looked impressive. What people are missing is that he’s talking walks. Compare that to the previous natural who did not know how to work the count and NEVER got good pitches to hit. And he puts the bro in bromance, which is good for Atlanta. But seriously, it’s hard not feel like he’s the real deal and it looks like he can handle the hype. He was not crazy swinging for the fences today, he was playing baseball. If he continues to look ready, I hope they start him. A winning franchise does not worry about arbitration deadlines.

richbrave

March 2nd, 2010
8:27 pm

bob horner

March 2nd, 2010
8:20 pm
What does bromance mean..?? also..DOB IS THE MARLBORO MAN

Where have all the blog regulars gone, or most of them. GRINCH is here. Where’s LEW, ncscoots, etc. and DOB?

Mekons

March 2nd, 2010
8:29 pm

I am deeply disturbed and ready to write off the season because the guy who is No. 14 on our bullpen depth chart had a lousy outing in the first spring training game. I shall now retire to my fainting couch and have a good pout.

TnBrian

March 2nd, 2010
8:32 pm

HEY HEY! There ya’ll are. Been searching for my fellow fans.

This new format does two things in my opinion– it filters out the real fans from the trouble makers(what person who isn’t a real fan is gonna bounce from one blog to the next) and it also keeps you up to date.

That said, I hate it with a passion. It’s annoying and pointless.

TnBrian

March 2nd, 2010
8:42 pm

Bill

March 2nd, 2010
9:06 pm

aps

March 2nd, 2010
9:08 pm

wjones , I have no idea what you’re talking about. My only point was not to get too excited after one meaningless game.

bravesgrl4life

March 2nd, 2010
9:27 pm

Hey there, TNBrian. I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of newbies this early season, too.

Count DeMonet

March 2nd, 2010
9:30 pm

Good hitting lineup
Solid defense
Great starting pitching
Bullpen could be effective if it stays healthy

The one big problem…
The Donkey in the dugout

38YearBravesFan

March 2nd, 2010
9:37 pm

Get a grip people, it was the first ST game. Not the World Series. Give the team a chance.

GO BRAVES!!

Tokyo Bravo

March 2nd, 2010
10:13 pm

Very excited about Heyward’s potential. Where will he bat in the order initially? Sixth? Seventh?

MDbrave

March 2nd, 2010
10:14 pm

Alaska Braves Fan-

If you want to have more serious baseball talks, go to those blogs of DOB’s where it ends with a lyrics if you have not found that out already. More DOB’s regular bloggers are there. But again, you might find more boneheads there too.

DawgDad

March 2nd, 2010
10:18 pm

Hey, I’m encouraged by the kid, too. Should have brought him up last August.

But we need to temper some of the enthusiasm here. Look at the middle of the lineup: Chipper, Glaus, McCann. Might get 80 homers and 300 RBIs out of them, but you well might get half that or less, too. Chipper tanked in the second half last year, and Glaus never really got out of the tank. When Chipper or Glaus are out of the lineup there’s no power bat to step in. If they’re both out at the same time the Braves are in big-time trouble.

Escobar, Prado, McLouth, and perhaps Cabrera could all improve on last year’s performances, but that improvement figures to be marginal and won’t fill holes in the middle of the lineup. Cabrera is barely better than a replacement-level outfielder; tolerable offensively in center field but subpar at either corner. He’s not going to start in center with McLouth, Schafer, and Blanco around.

Pitching figures to be good up front and in the pen. But can it possibly be as good as it was last year? A full year of Hansen only partially offsets the loss of Vazquez. Lowe could win 15 or 5 at this point. Hudson is a prayer. Medlen is a wish. Jurrgens needs an insurance policy.

Braves on paper remain a wild card contender, but a contender that could easily get swallowed up by injuries and a competitive East Division. Mets will be better, Nats will be better, Phils and Marlins are still strong, and they will score runs. There’s not much room to make a big 8-to-10 game swing in the standings.

Ross

March 2nd, 2010
10:39 pm

I am so glad to have another real born-and-bred African American in the lineup (I’m very Wonder-ish Swiss-mutt in case you want to know). At least it’s one less pasty I-can’t-be-bothered-with-this-crap Larochian blank stare to have to put up with no matter how he does at the plate. Someone who can smile! THANK GOD Laroche is gone!!! This team could be a lot of fun. Let it be a great year!

Mekons

March 2nd, 2010
10:47 pm

We have so many Eeyores here (the gloomy donkey from Winnie the Pooh who never saw a sunny day that would become rainy). I think half of them are Mets trolls. Anyone who thinks this team will be .500 is a moron. The team is far improved from last year. Some of you may remember Frenchy and his .280 OBP and Schafer and his broken wrist and Heap and his decaying eyes. Chipper cannot be as bad as he was last year, and our outfield is going to be far better. We have Marteen instead of Kelly, an upgrade, and our starting pitching is at least as good. I miss Javy too. But we have Huddy, who is a terrific pitcher and healthier than he has been in years.

The LF/CF group of Schafer, McLouth and Diaz is going to be great (I still think Melky is heading out of town by June) is superior and Heyward is going to be a beast. Glauss, unless he breaks down, is a clear upgrade over what we had at the beginning of last year.

Procter might be the real change in the bullpen. He’s far superior to the people who are gone (Bennett, et al) and appears to be healthy. He may need a month in the minors, but he will be our main middle reliever and a good one. Then you have Moylan, Saito and Wagner. All nasty. O’Flaherty was great in his role last year and has more confidence. Then we have about 12 great arms to fill out the rest.

Freeman obviously needs another year in the minors, but I was really impressed with his defense today. Remember, he was mainly a pitcher in high school and he’s still learning. He was quick and made two great plays and one not so good that the ump saved him from.

richbrave

March 2nd, 2010
11:02 pm

Count DeMonet

March 2nd, 2010
9:30 pm
Good hitting lineup
Solid defense
Great starting pitching
Bullpen could be effective if it stays healthy

The one big problem…
The Donkey in the dugout

Well, some things never change.

richbrave

March 2nd, 2010
11:05 pm

OMG, the BRAVES have lost to the MELTS, all is lost.

Mekons

March 2nd, 2010
11:05 pm

Donkey? He’s an instant hall of famer. You have problems, rich. He’s among the five best managers ever. And two of the others were Braves, Torre and Stengel.

richbrave

March 2nd, 2010
11:18 pm

Mekons

March 2nd, 2010
11:05 pm
Donkey? He’s an instant hall of famer. You have problems, rich. He’s among the five best managers ever. And two of the others were Braves, Torre and Stengel.

Dude, I wasn’t calling him that. The other dude was. I think he’s fine other than reliefer management.

Michael Castro

March 2nd, 2010
11:51 pm

Can we stop with this J-Hey nonsense? That’s just dumb.

dc from Conyers

March 3rd, 2010
12:07 am

Let me get this straight, ONE Brave WALKED TWICE IN ONE GAME!!!! He better make the roster.

Serbok

March 3rd, 2010
2:35 am

Scorby Jones
I am not sure~ that bobby even knows the “Steal sign?”

Rusty

March 3rd, 2010
2:46 am

Pitchers are not even trying to overpower batters in early March. They are working on something that has nothing to do with the score, or the batter.

wjones

March 3rd, 2010
6:10 am

aps

“March 2nd, 2010
9:08 pm
wjones , I have no idea what you’re talking about. My only point was not to get too excited after one meaningless game.”

My point was the same, but I did it from the opposite view. You are right, the season isn’t saved because Heyward had a good game, but it also isn’t lost because Chavez had a bad game, and we are hearing more of that from you and others. We all need a little perspective here, but don’t be so negative about it.

The Grinch

March 3rd, 2010
6:22 am

Yeah, the whole “We teach…blah, blah, steal bases…” comment almost knocked me flat. Anything other than “They have to run laps every time they pull that stealing crap…” is akin to “he only left one pitch over the plate” after a 4 run inning. Bee-esss.

President of the Heyward Fan Club

March 3rd, 2010
6:23 am

“I try to play the game right, do whatever it takes,” said Heyward, known as “J-Hey” at Henry County High School. “That’s a situation where the guy’s at the plate and we’ve got an opportunity to be on third base with less than two [outs].

I officially have a man crush on this kid. I’ve been waiting for a Brave to think like this for a while now. Hurry up and start the season and bring Heyward North!!

LWells2000

March 3rd, 2010
8:14 am

So we got a game from MLB-TV in square screen. Wonder if we’ll see anymore Grapefruit games on TV[?].

Walker, Texas Ranger

March 3rd, 2010
8:16 am

DOB, who is a better fielder Prado or Infante? Given their # of at bats, hitting is about the same. From what I can tell, Infante is more suited for second than Prado.

Rock On......

March 3rd, 2010
9:36 am

Walker…Prado is clearly the better hitter both for power and average. Infante is an OK defensively(not better than Prado) and OK to have as a utility man. Nothing more than that. Put it this way. If the Braves traded for another 2nd baseman it would be Prado manning the utility role and Infante would be out of here. Actually glad to have Infante in the role he is in but as an overall 2nd baseman it isn’t close.

here it is

March 3rd, 2010
10:08 am

McLouth
Escobar
Heyward
Jones
Glaus
McCann
Prado
Cabrera/Diaz

Coach (2011 or Bust)

March 3rd, 2010
10:32 am

Barring injury, I guess the only thing left to decide is whether Joe Thurston or Brooks Conrad gets the last remaining bench spot?

The rest looks to be set in stone:

Outfield: McLouth, Cabrera, Diaz and Heyward.

Catchers: McCann and Ross

Infield: Chipper, Glaus, Escobar, Prado, Infante and Hinske.

Jay Dizzle

March 3rd, 2010
10:32 am

J Heyward Last spring stats .300 3HR 3RBI in 40AB or so

Jay Dizzle

March 3rd, 2010
10:33 am

correction: 2HR

DawgDad

March 3rd, 2010
10:53 am

“Barring injury, I guess the only thing left to decide is whether Joe Thurston or Brooks Conrad gets the last remaining bench spot?”

Absolutely need another infielder, because Prado/Infante/Hinske are going to have to fill in a lot for Chipper (games missed, leaving games early). Will be interesting to see how Bobby plays it when Chipper is out. I’d be tempted to move Glaus to third and play Hinske or Prado at first. Is Diory Hernandez still around?

wjones

March 3rd, 2010
10:56 am

“DawgDad

March 3rd, 2010
10:53 am
“Barring injury, I guess the only thing left to decide is whether Joe Thurston or Brooks Conrad gets the last remaining bench spot?”

Absolutely need another infielder, because Prado/Infante/Hinske are going to have to fill in a lot for Chipper (games missed, leaving games early). Will be interesting to see how Bobby plays it when Chipper is out. I’d be tempted to move Glaus to third and play Hinske or Prado at first. Is Diory Hernandez still around?”

Yes, last week DOB reported that Diory injured his shoulder in winter ball, and will miss about three months.

Poorbrave

March 3rd, 2010
10:57 am

I’m pulling for J-Hey but don’t like to put pressure on rookie.

Chavez will be ok, everyone has bad days and I’m sure others will before ST is over.

Braves are back

March 3rd, 2010
11:26 am

the pitching is sound. defense is passable. If chipper and glaus can play more than 120 games each – lookout!

Mitchell

March 3rd, 2010
11:39 am

Did I see a “J-Hay” on here and on the AJC sports page?

We’re not calling him “J-Hay”. I’m definitely not calling him “J-Hay”.

Thumbs down. How about no nickname till he plays in a real game? Too soon and “J-Hay”? Too bad.

ATL HO

March 3rd, 2010
12:07 pm

It’s HEYWARD…IDIOTS! Get his name right if ur going to talk noise!

Sopuht

March 3rd, 2010
12:31 pm

We didn’t make up J-Hey Mitchell. Heyward’s high school did so get used to it (He was in high school longer than he’s been in the Braves system!). Besides, what else is Bobby gonna call him? Kid?

Truedat

March 3rd, 2010
12:34 pm

Really? and ATL are right. Pay attention people

Braves Fan

March 3rd, 2010
12:35 pm

I feel sorry for J-Hey. The fans and the media are setting him up for a Frenchy fall.

Truedat

March 3rd, 2010
12:41 pm

Not to fuel the fire, but Heyward is obviously better than Frenchy. And his psyche is better. But yeah let’s hope he doesn’t fold.

Base

March 3rd, 2010
12:58 pm

It was a disappointing game by disappointing players.Clutch hitting is still needed!

[...] Tuesday’s 4-2 Grapefruit league opening loss to the  New York Mets, the young guns lived up to the [...]

Artie

March 3rd, 2010
2:38 pm

Get it right people. The man’s proper nickname is “Dent”.

Rah

March 3rd, 2010
6:45 pm

Or busted sunroof and 3 concussions?…Let’s go busted sunroof and 3 concussions!

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