Hitting coach says Heyward’s thumb is bothering him

LOS ANGELES – Jason Heyward won’t use it as an excuse, but hitting coach Terry Pendleton said the rookie slugger’s nagging thumb injury is causing him problems.

He went 2-for-17 with eight strikeouts in the four-game series against the Dodgers, including strikeouts to end the ninth and 11th innings – both times with a runner on base – in Sunday’s 5-4 loss.

Heyward tied a major league record by striking out five times in a nine-inning game Friday, including the final out of the 5-4 loss.

“He’s not going to mention it, but he’s struggling with that left thumb,” Pendleton said Sunday morning. “It’s bugging him. He can’t get to a certain point in his swing that he wants to get to without it [hurting].”

Heyward injured the thumb on May 14 when he caught it on the base while sliding head-first. He was scratched from the lineup May 23 at Pittsburgh after it swelled during the game the night before.

He’s 3-for-28 with 10 strikeouts and no extra-base hits in his past seven games, with his only RBI in that stretch coming on a line-drive single in the third inning Sunday.

Before the slump, Heyward hit .372 with nine extra-base hits (two homers) and 10 RBIs in 11 games, including three consecutive two-hit games May 28-30.

“He gets to a certain spot in his swing and it’s almost like he has to come off it,” Pendleton said. “It just gets him. He’s trying to work through that and still stay on the ball.”

Pendleton thinks it could be an injury that’s nagging through the rest of the season, and doesn’t believe resting Heyward for a brief period would help. He thinks it’ll be in the offseason before it completely heals.

61 comments Add your comment

N8

June 6th, 2010
9:19 pm

Great. Time to ban the prodigal son/golden child from sliding head first.

flatFork

June 6th, 2010
9:23 pm

Doesn’t he have a healing factor or something. Wait, maybe I’m thinking of a different super hero.

cheshire

June 6th, 2010
9:25 pm

i wish Jesse Chavez’s thumb was bothering him so we could stop watching him blow games. do we need any further evidence to bump him down to the minors?? no? ok, let’s just keep risking games by trotting him out there then.

roja

June 6th, 2010
9:56 pm

We need to let Chavez and Kawakami shag flies in the outfield during BP every day. Maybe we’d get lucky and they would crash into one another and improve both the Bullpen and Starting Rotation for at least a 15 day stint on the DL.

ijudgenot

June 6th, 2010
9:58 pm

Time to sit him for a couple of games to let the thumb get some rest. You could tell something was wrong. Kid may make outs but he mskes contact most of the time. The strikeouts against the Dodgers were taletelling. Get him out of there before he alters his swing Cox. You are 2 up on the Phils. Lose two games and you are still in 1st place tie.Chaves threw the pitch but it was McCann that called for a changeup. McCann is a great offensive catcher like Piazza, but is not a good defensive catcher nor does he call a good game for the pitchers. Not all his faught, he came up and started as a rookie and has been starting ever since. Would have been nice for him to have had Eddie Perez to watch play for awhile before he was called to start. He doesn’t seem to set up hitters well. Huddy did not have a good sinker today but he had a decent fastball and change that allowed him to get 2 strikes on a lot of hitters but could not put them away because everything was on the same plane. McCann never called for pitch out of zone high, just kept putting glove in same spot and Dodgers kept getting 2 strike hits..

IlliniBrave

June 6th, 2010
10:28 pm

flatfork: talking about Obama

roja: we could never be so lucky!

Hey-Train for All-Star

June 6th, 2010
10:51 pm

When voting for the all-star team, pick Heyward in the outfield of course. To get him extra votes write in his name in the available spot.

paul in Richmond

June 6th, 2010
11:26 pm

Let him sit – but not too close to Jones.

hal

June 6th, 2010
11:31 pm

let him sit because as of now hes our worst hitting outfilder cant even advance a runner or score a guy from third the future face of the franchis is a scowl lol

hal

June 6th, 2010
11:33 pm

funny how prado hads a sore thumb n keeps hitting the kud has one and makes excuse hoss has one and takes a mid summer vactaion and our new face of the franchise is martin prado

hal

June 6th, 2010
11:34 pm

actually were two faced martin and wrens idiot sighning, glaus as the new two faced franchise lol

JohnSmith

June 6th, 2010
11:34 pm

Okay, NOW the sky is definitely falling. McCann can’t see, Saito’s injured, Chipper’s hurt, Prado’s got a sore hand, Heyward’s got a bad thumb, and our bullpen is dog tired. Whatta time for a long road trip!

*weeps*

ChipperJ

June 6th, 2010
11:55 pm

Part of the problem is- The kid hasn’t been able to have his own spot in the lineup to settle into. Sure, you should be hitting anywhere but for those of you who’ve played ball for along time like myself you know that every spot in the order has a niche and you see different kinds of pitches depending on which spot your hitting out of. Heyward is adjusting to hitting 3rd now and this is a good thing once the growing pains are gone he’ll be back on top of things. He should’ve been in the 3 spot all season and he should’ve made this transition a long time ago but better late than never. Chipper won’t be hitting 3rd next year so why start him there this year? Let the kid get familiar with it.

ChipperJ

June 7th, 2010
12:04 am

He’s adjusted and came out of his mini slump earlier in the year when he moved up to the 2 hole, and he’ll adjust just fine to the 3 spot if they keep him in one place long enough. Thats been 1 problem with the team this year, the scrambled up batting orders every day. Its no good to add confusion to confusion. The coaches are watching a different game half the time it seems.

Brian A

June 7th, 2010
12:46 am

Will someone please ban hal. He is an idiot and shouldn’t be allowed to be seen or heard in public. How can you talk about a rookie that helped carry the team during their streak into first place. Without the solid performances of Heyward, Gaus and Prado during May there is no first place. Of all the outfielders on the team he has played the most games, the most RBIs, HRs and runs. He has delivered more than most expected even with all the overblown hype he received. Either you are a fan of the team and support the players that are trying hard or shut up. Pendelton clearly said the rookie won’t mention it, it’s Pendelton that put the thumb issue into the public arena. I understand getting on a player that isn’t giving an effort, but you are an idiot.

Najeh Davenpoop

June 7th, 2010
1:05 am

We’ve already been down this road with a hotshot rookie outfielder trying to gut out a thumb injury, and it didn’t do Jordan Schafer any good. Give Heyward his rest and let him come back at 100%.

jed

June 7th, 2010
1:59 am

why wouldnt rest help?

ATL Shawty

June 7th, 2010
2:43 am

I am a huge JH fan and I watch all of his AB’s very closely. It’s obvious that he’s not himself. He has swung and missed more good pitches in the LA series more than I’ve seen him swing and miss all season. He has not been his typical line drive hitting self lately.

Kaye

June 7th, 2010
7:35 am

Jordan Schafer had a broken wrist not a hurt thumb. I dont think you can compare the two. I do think that they should rest Heyward for a couple of days though and put a shot in that thumb to reduce swelling. Dont they teach head first sliding is not to be done in the minors. Oh I forgot, Heyward hasnt really played much in the minors. Lets not ruin the kid huh Bobby.

Let's Go

June 7th, 2010
8:29 am

Unless you DL Chipper you can’t sit Jason right now because you are already short a player coming off the bench. I kinda agree moving to the 3 spot did not do him any favors. With Chipper out during the Dodger series Jason struggled badly and this may not be the place for him. Leave Jason at 2 and move Troy up to the 3 spot with McCain and Hinske 4-5. Sliding has to be something that get’s lost at pratice nowadays because it wasn’t head first but Infante is lucky he didn’t break his leg yesterday sliding into 2nd.

TylerL

June 7th, 2010
8:33 am

Geez, we sure do have a lot of FAIR WEATHER fans. It’s funny how I saw the same people last week praising Bobby and Terry. It’s called MAJOR LEAGE BASEBALL for a reason. Teams WILL go through slumps, not to mention everyday players. If you’re gonna be the teams “number one fan” when we’re doing good and the “number one enemy” when we’re doing bad, go watch the Yankees.

just me

June 7th, 2010
9:07 am

The Braves should ban Heyward from talking to Chipper. We don’t need two players sitting or making excuses about “tweaks”.

Melky way

June 7th, 2010
9:22 am

You Have Chipper sitting with a finger injury and Heyward Playing with a Thumb injury.Heyward was not the one who mentioned the injury bothering him,it was TP.

clay

June 7th, 2010
9:35 am

well this isnt good news at all. We def. need him to come through because usually prado or infante are on base infront of him, so he has a lot of chances for rbi’s. Can someone tell me why bobby still trotts chavez out there? he continues to blow games. I will say it again, I know were in first but at the end of the season and your fighting for the division or a playoff spot these are the kind of games you look back at saying we should have won. It just sux because we really could have swept these guys. The bullpen blew both games we lost out there. They have been scetchy over the last couple of weeks. I hope they can get it back together like they did to start the season

Jo-Bu

June 7th, 2010
9:55 am

Despite all of J-Hey’s talent at the plate and around the bases — from the camera I saw yesterday, looks like he had a chance to pull that Furcal homer back in had he attempted. Now, with that said, I don’t know if he got enough jump on the ball but once the ball went over the (relatively) short wall, he was clearly in-frame.

I’m not down on the kid, he more than makes up for it at the plate on around the base paths. I just think he should have efforted a better try at it. Again, I didn’t see an alternate side-view angle and the depth on TV might have been misleading. But, if it were possible to have brought that ball back, could have been the difference in that one.

Just sayin’.

Charlie Lau

June 7th, 2010
9:59 am

If his thumb is bothering him and hampering his swing then sit him down until it gets well instead of allowing it to become a lingering injury. He had an awful series in LA. Let someone healthy play.

Don

June 7th, 2010
10:16 am

The thing that is probably bothering/effecting Heyward adversely the most is coming under the influence of Cox and Pendleton. The thing that some of us feared the most seems to be happening. When he came up he showed great maturity in his hitting approach. The question was – was he mature enough to ignore Cox and Pendleton, especially Cox.
Cox started telling him to be more aggressive and other things. Now he is trying to pull everything (or at least a lot more) and is not being as patient – and has his approach messed up.

gsuga

June 7th, 2010
10:36 am

Are they “Francourizing him” to the level of not hitting as well as he was when he arrived?

Harry the hat

June 7th, 2010
11:27 am

PLEASE Don;t even let TP near him. he will nevr hit well again

Jo-Bu

June 7th, 2010
11:51 am

Wonder what TP is doing to Troy Glaus with all of those homers?

Wes

June 7th, 2010
12:45 pm

Why didn’t Bobby Cox keep Jonny Venters in the game? He was pitching great.

papadawg

June 7th, 2010
12:48 pm

Before I say sit the Kid and rest his thumb WHO’s his replacement

clay

June 7th, 2010
1:02 pm

Jo-Bu – It looked to me like the ball was traveling to fast because it was hit on a line drive so by the time he would have to go and time his jump the ball had already passed. I would see what kind of night he has tonight at the plate and if he has an 0fer again tonight with a couple of strike outs then they probably should sit him for a couple of days and put melky,hinske and blanco in the outfield(blanco because no one wants to see mcclouth in there)

loulo

June 7th, 2010
1:08 pm

whatever happened to Jordan Schafer

Dwayne

June 7th, 2010
1:13 pm

A bad thumb does not make you swing at pitches in the dirt or a foot outside, he is 20, give him a rest. Send Chavez anywhere and call up an outfield, shortning the bull pen is not a big deal, Booby like moylan, o’flare then wags. I know McCooky aint hitting, Milky Duds aint doing much better either, put Hinske out there with those two for 2 or 3 days and let Heyward rest.

Dwayne

June 7th, 2010
1:14 pm

*outfielder*

Dwayne

June 7th, 2010
1:15 pm

***whatever happened to Jordan Schafer****
he’s still making those ugly beer faces…..

tom

June 7th, 2010
1:18 pm

I think ijudgenot had an accurate/best appraisal!!

extremus

June 7th, 2010
1:24 pm

Boy, this is a lousy predicament, because after Heyward you’ve got VERY slim pickings to choose from in the outfield if you’re the Braves. They could potentially call up Mitch Jones to at least aid in the power numbers a little if they sat Heyward, but he’s also a strikeout liability. If they sit him, they obviously will lose a huge cog in their offensive capability while he’s out, and the result could be a plunge in the standings. However, the 2010 Braves have so far been blessed by the fact that when one player goes down, somebody’s always been able to pick up the slack for the time being (see Medlen, Infante, Hinske, etc), so my instinct would be to do it, even if it means placing Heyward on the 15-day DL. Better to get that thumb fully healed and see him return to his early awesome form for the pennant run than to watch him try to battle through it and keep going 2 or 3 for every 20 or so the rest of the year. And my gut tells me the latter will happen if he isn’t rested.

Oh yeah, and NO MORE sliding into a base head-first, Jason!!!!

Please

June 7th, 2010
1:28 pm

Why do the Braves continually have small injuries that keep them out of the lineup? Most girl softball team players would continue to play through most of the finger, leg, and toe injuries that the Braves seem to continually have. We need a few hockey players to show the Braves softies how to man up.

Renegator

June 7th, 2010
1:36 pm

If Heyward is hurt – why doesn’t Bobby give him a couple days off? The Braves have 6 outfielders on the current 25 man roster if you count Infante who started in LF last week.

wayn-o

June 7th, 2010
1:39 pm

He looks like the injured Schafer from last year

gt

June 7th, 2010
1:47 pm

He is the only batter wearing sunglasses. If Mc has such a problem seeing out of glasses and he has to wear em why wear em when you don’t have to?

Dawg Fan in Grayson

June 7th, 2010
2:14 pm

With this development Wren needs to really work in getting a good hitting OF soon. Even if JHey was completely healthy he needed to acquire an OF who can hit.

Skeezix

June 7th, 2010
2:26 pm

If the thumb’s a problem, they need to rest him. But also he seems to be swinging for the fences on everything–and a two month dose of major league pitching has a way of getting into a rookie’s head.
He’ll be fine–he’ll adjust and start connecting again. When Jason struggles at the plate I hope Braves fans don’t go into spasm like they did with Frenchy everytime he’d slip into a slump.

papadawg

June 7th, 2010
3:29 pm

The thumb is the worst injury on your hand. Been there, it totally screws up your grip on the bat and forces you to adjust your swing to avoid the pain.

Reality 4

June 7th, 2010
3:31 pm

The arm chair businesses must be doing really well these days.

39yrBravesFan

June 7th, 2010
3:59 pm

WONderful. Just what we need.

GO BRAVES!!

John A.

June 7th, 2010
4:01 pm

I also believe a short stint on the DL is what J-Hey needs. Give Blanco a chance….he deserves as much opportunity as McLouth and Melky.

TomDAWG

June 7th, 2010
4:35 pm

I know this has nothing to do with the article, but can you people please stop putting down Kawakami?
He is not a bad pitcher. He keeps the Brave’s close in many of his games. He is the unlucky pitcher on the staff that gets very little run support. The fact that he has not won a game (mostly due to low run support) makes him appear to be a bad pitcher. Again, he is not. I thought he did a great job against the Dodger’s, especially after the hard hit ball off of his ankle/foot area. Just my opinion.

Jo-Bu

June 7th, 2010
4:50 pm

The arm chair businesses must be doing really well these days.

I got mine on clearance at Wal-Mart.. It even came with a built-in coffey holder. I liked it so much, I bought one for my other arm and had it customized to hold my Twinkies.

Jo-Bu

June 7th, 2010
4:52 pm

I can’t spell!!

I got mine on clearance at Wal-Mart.. It even came with a built-in coffee holder. I liked it so much, I bought one for my other arm and had it customized to hold my Twinkies.

cheshire

June 7th, 2010
5:35 pm

question – if you cut Heyward’s finger off, wouldn’t he just grow a new one anyway? he can do pretty much everything else.

Reality 4

June 7th, 2010
6:57 pm

If a slump is going 2 out of 4 in LA, I will take that any time.

Mike

June 7th, 2010
11:19 pm

Just because your thumb hurts is not a reason to chase bad pitches like he has been recently.

scottbravesfan

June 8th, 2010
1:56 am

If only judging the Braves fan base from this blog I would say that they have the dumbest fan base in the entire league. Seriously most people on this blog have zero knowledge about baseball. You go and try and hit a baseball in the 60 mile an hour batting cages at your local baseball center and see if you can even make contact. Heyward is 20 years old, going through the league for the first time, he’s not going to hit .400 and hit 50 homeruns as a 20 year old. He’s putting up historic numbers compared to Ted Williams and Mel Ott as a 20 year old and that’s not good enough for you? People need to get a grip on reality.

ijudgenot

June 8th, 2010
10:21 am

Cox is really a paradox. Most of the time he is like a mother hen who over protects her chicks. Taking guys out of lineup if they say they have a hangnail. Now, with hitting coach saying the Kid has a thumb issue, Kid having to wear a protective ring around thumb , not making contact at an alarming pace, and not hitting ball with authority like before, Cox leaves him in lineup. Kid does not seem to be trying to hit ball to left field even against left handers. Is this because that swing would put more pressure on the thumb? The Kid is altering his swing to accomodate the pain. Please sit him tonight Bobby if Chipper can play. I’d rather see the Braves scuffle for the next couple of games to score runs, than to see this Kid mess up his swing trying to keep from aggravating the thumb injury. Let him do a “Chipper” and sit until well. Prado has a hand injury too but he is still hitting and his stroke has not changed.

Marc in FL

June 8th, 2010
12:29 pm

Terry is just trying lighten the judgment on Heyward. He knows a sore thumb isn’t the problem, but he and the other coaches know that Heyward will hit slumps like this during the season and the best remedy is keep getting him at-bats.

This is just a smokescreen. They’re trying to protect him before Atlanta’s schizophrenic fan base turns on him for having a few bad games. He’ll adjust and start performing before you know it.

TPic

June 8th, 2010
3:11 pm

Is there a way to put Cox on the DL (desired lobotomy)? “Let’s see, I have Wagner (three days of rest) and Chavez (7.33 ERA) as my choices to pitch in an extra-inning tie game. Ummm, I pick Chavez! Why, you ask? Well, I want to save Wagner for when a save situation comes up. Oh, that didn’t happen? Then I’ll just burn him for an inning in a game we’re losing 7-4….you know, he hasn’t had much work lately”. (*&^%$#@

[...] he doesn’t wanna admit to it which is causing a problem. Hitting coach Terry Pendleton told Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he isn’t able to finish his swing or get to the proper point, which means it is time to put [...]

[...] he doesn’t wanna admit to it which is causing a problem. Hitting coach Terry Pendleton told Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he isn’t able to finish his swing or get to the proper point, which means it is time to put [...]

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