LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA – Just another slow news day at the ballpark….
Bobby Cox tells Jason Heyward this morning he’s making the team. It’s official. And just a little aside to that, I have another tidbit for you I’ve learned. Heyward will wear No. 22, I’m told.
(Actually, the Braves just made it official. It was just announced here in the press box at 2 p.m.)
So there you have it, the funny-looking 71 Heyward has been wearing all spring (and last spring too, I think) will gave way for a good number, suited for an every-day player, and who the heck knows, maybe a place up on the Braves outfield wall before this is all over.
There, I did it, I bought into the hype. But the way everyone is talking around here, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see the J-Hey kid blossom into one of the game’s greats.
Braves GM Frank Wren just compared the scrutiny Heyward’s gotten this spring to Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez and Stephen Strasburg.
I think that’s why Heyward’s reaction seemed a little contained, a little reserved for a guy who just learned he’d be making his major league debut on Opening Day against the Cubs. As Chipper Jones put it, nobody in the clubhouse was surprised by this move. So perhaps that’s why Heyward wasn’t really either.
“There’s never been a doubt in anybody’s mind that he was going to make it,” Jones said. “The bottom line is he’s done nothing to warrant a trip to Gwinnett. You want to leave Florida with the best eight every-day players, the best 25 guys you got in camp, and Jason Heyward is part of that starting eight.”
Frank was quite a bit more, well, frank today, with some of the same questions I asked yesterday. When I asked about why they decided not to let finances, and Heyward’s arbitration clock, etc, deter the Braves from putting Heyward on the team, he said out loud what a lot of us have been thinking – how could he justify that to everyone around the Braves organization and fans.
“Those are decisions you make in different circumstances with your club,” Wren said of weighing the financial part. “If your club is a competitive club and you think this player is going to be an integral part of a competitive team, I’m not sure how you face the other 24 players, the staff, the fans and say ‘We’re going to keep him in the minor leagues.’ I couldn’t do that.”
Ross groin strain
In other news, David Ross tweaked a groin muscle yesterday in Bradenton, trying to get back to the bag after a pickoff attempt. He’s out of the lineup for a couple of days but said it’s not serious.
Hanson on Heath
I think it’s only a matter of time now before the Braves release minor league pitcher Deunte Heath, who was arrested last night for soliciting a prostitute. In fact, he might have been released here shortly anyway. But in fairness to Heath, I thought I’d share what one of his former teammates had to say about him as a person this morning.
Here’s Tommy Hanson, who played with Heath in Rome, Myrtle Beach, and Mississippi.
“He’s one of my favorite guys I’ve ever played with,” Hanson said. “He’s an awesome dude. He would do anything for anybody. That looks bad on his character, but that’s not who he is. He’s a really good guy.”
53 Melky Cabrera LF
14 Martin Prado 2B
10 Chipper Jones 3B
16 Brian McCann C
25 Troy Glaus 1B
71 Jason Heyward RF
24 Nate McLouth CF
4 Omar Infante SS
32 Derek Lowe
32 Don Kelly 2B
18 Johnny Damon CF
9 Carlos Guillen LF
24 Miguel Cabrera 1B
15 Brandon Inge 3B
8 Gerald Laird C
25 Ryan Raburn RF
39 Ramon Santiago SS
35 Justin Verlander P