Jason Heyward admits he’s hurt

By Ray Glier

Special to the AJC

Jason Heyward is not up against a rookie wall he cannot burst through. He does not have to change his stance or adjust to pitchers who have adjusted to him.

He’s hurt. He finally said so.

Heyward, who has been loathe to make excuses for a slump that has dragged on for a month, was out of the lineup against the Tigers on Saturday and said he will miss Sunday’s game as well because of an injured left thumb. It is the top hand he uses for his quick, compact swing, and it has bothered him.

“It’s definitely bruised, it’s swollen, and it is also jammed,” said Heyward, whose average has sunk to .251. “You can’t bend it all the way. That’s where the difficult part is, holding the bat. The pain is doable; it’s just holding the bat.

“It affects consistency in the swing. Everything else around the swing, the load, the trigger, the timing, staying on the ball, you have to have that. But if you don’t have the swing you are not going to be consistent. I need to see what’s going on so I can get back to a more consistent swing.”

Heyward, 20, burst into the big leagues as the Braves’ starting right fielder when the season opened and sizzled for six weeks, leading the team in home runs and RBIs into May. He was a coast-to-coast star because of his combination of power and average, his big arm in right field, and his demure makeup. Heyward took nothing for granted with his hot start, and it endeared him to teammates and fans.

On May 14, in a Friday game against Arizona, he slid into third base and jammed the thumb. He has not been the same hitter who streaked through the first six weeks of the season.

In the past 24 games, Heyward is hitting .124 with 33 strikeouts in 99 at bats. He has just one home run.

In his first 46 games, Heyward hit .301 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs. His slugging percentage was .596. During the slump, his slugging percentage has crashed to .232.

“It will affect hitting,” Heyward said. “I’m going to try to do something to get it better. I’ve seen doctors about it. I’m going to see the doctor again to see if there is anything we can do better.

“This is not an excuse. This is what we have to work with. I don’t have a problem going out and playing every day, but this is for the team. Let’s get it better so I can get back to helping the team.”

The club survived on offense as second baseman Martin Prado blossomed into one of the best hitters in the National League and off-season pickup Troy Glaus, ridiculed in April, broke loose in May. Outfielder Eric Hinske has been a steady contributor all three months of the season.

“We knew in here he was hurting,” Hinske said. “He was trying to do the best he could, but it’s gotten to a point it was hurting him. He needs to get it right.”

Heyward’s upward arc toward a start in right field for the National League in the All-Star Game seems in jeopardy. He’s more concerned about the games in August and September when the Braves could be making a push for their first postseason appearance since 2005.

“It’s June, almost July, we have the second half of the season coming up,” Heyward said. “I would like to be able to contribute and make that big push for the playoffs. To do so it might take some time. I’m going to have to take a day, take two days, see a doctor.”

Heyward entered Saturday’s game in the eighth inning as a pinch-runner for Hinske. He stayed in the game in the ninth, going to right field as Melky Cabrera moved from right to Hinske’s spot in left.

23 comments Add your comment

Gary H

June 26th, 2010
5:21 pm

JohnSmith

June 26th, 2010
5:21 pm

Thank God it’s not “the book” getting around on him, at any rate.

thunderbull56

June 26th, 2010
6:10 pm

Head first slides are actually hands first slides.You know them old timers may not have been so smart, but they needed that 10-50 grand a year bad enough not to wreck their career over a frickin’ slide.Yeah, I believe in being aggressive and making the other team make the play, but,if Liberty names me the new manager,50k fine for every head first slide.Stamp out knuckleheaddom.

thunderbull56

June 26th, 2010
6:18 pm

Proud to be an awaiting moderation poster BTW.

scottbravesfan

June 26th, 2010
6:41 pm

It’s cool that Braves rookies want to try and play hurt and are tough but last year with Schafer playing with a broke wrist and now Heyward playing with a hurt thumb someone needs to sit them down and tell them they just can’t play baseball with hurt thumbs and broken wrist. Anything wrong with your hands, fingers, or wrist and you are done when it comes to swinging a bat.

shmoe

June 26th, 2010
7:43 pm

After that call, it’s the Braves year! Kawabunga

[...] He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it’s something that’s painfully bothering him. [...]

Jinxo1964

June 26th, 2010
10:02 pm

Sliding headfirst into any base should be an automatic $10,000 fine imposed by Bobby Cox. This kid’s entire season could be derailed because of something so boneheaded.

hAL

June 26th, 2010
10:31 pm

bonehead about s sums him up not anexcuse huh funny we never heard a word when he was hitting 290 funny how a 2 for 37 strech makes things hurt huh

Dan_in_NC

June 26th, 2010
10:34 pm

I say shut him down until the series in Philadelphia just before the All-Star break, guys like Melky getting hot can help carry the team for a week-plus. If we limit his time between now and the break, I think it gives Jason a good chances of coming back strong in the 2nd half.

Even though Jason is mentally strong for a 20 year, giving him some down-time will mentally have him refresh as well. JMHO.

Bob

June 26th, 2010
10:36 pm

HGH, you’ll catch on eventually.

pdt

June 26th, 2010
11:01 pm

Where is the manager in all of this? If Cox were a decent manager he’d know if a player was hurt and do something about it instead of playing him for a month. I lay the blame for this one squarely on Cox.

[...] with him playing like he’s been playing this month. You can read more on the situation here: Jason Heyward admits he’s hurt Clubhouse Comments  [Comments (0)]  [link]   [...]

Rhino

June 27th, 2010
3:37 am

About time! I bet he’s not back after two games but I hope I’m wrong!

http://www.rhinorant.com

Blk. peter Gammons

June 27th, 2010
6:02 am

pdt, been saying that for over a month now. Cox is going to cause these young players to have chronic injuries because of his ineptness to recognize when some players should sit.

Jordan Charney

June 27th, 2010
7:03 am

“If Cox was a decent manager…..”pdt, you should have your blogging license revoked.

Fan since 1977

June 27th, 2010
8:24 am

No one wants to come out of the lineup. Leave the kid alone. I admire his guts. If Chipper yawns Cox sits him.

Roy Hobbs

June 27th, 2010
8:57 am

This is a pretty nasty story below the surface. The coaches new this a month ago, and he has continued to be in the lineup every single day. I dont know what the excuse is for this, but its pretty scary and I really hope he is ok.

If it really is a lingering injury as TP said a month ago, then the kid needs to go on the 15 day DL now, and rest all the way through the all star break. That gives him nearly 3 weeks to see if this thing can get fixed for this year. Dont screw with his career. Please.

wjones

June 27th, 2010
9:13 am

“hAL

June 26th, 2010
10:31 pm
bonehead about s sums him up not anexcuse huh funny we never heard a word when he was hitting 290 funny how a 2 for 37 strech makes things hurt huh”

hAL, what is your problem with Heyward? You have been taking shots at him all year? Do you just not recognize the special talent he is, or is it something less savory that you have a problem with?

jim

June 27th, 2010
2:18 pm

hal is probably just a hater. some people like to see others succeed, others don’t; hal falls into the later category. Usually means they’re not comfortable with themselves. It’s ok, hal. You can hate all you want, but it’s not going to stop heyward’s ascendence into an upper-eschelon player. i fell bad for your life, though.

Clint

June 27th, 2010
3:43 pm

Heyward is The Atlanta Braves. hAL, fall off a cliff

oh yeah!!

June 28th, 2010
8:40 am

@jim… I could not have said it any better myself. Ppl that come onto these blogs, faceless… cowering behind their computer monitors have issues with themselves and they deal with it by talking bad about other ppl.

Dewey Passley

May 2nd, 2013
7:28 pm

Most modern monitors will switch to a power-saving mode if no video-input signal is received. This allows modern operating systems to turn off a monitor after a specified period of inactivity. This also extends the monitor’s service life.^’

Bye for now
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