Braves right fielder Jason Heyward has seen improvement in his sore right shoulder but is unlikely to return to the Braves starting lineup for the remainder of the Phillies series.
Heyward was available to pinch run Friday night and could see limited action off the bench before the series is up, but Heyward said anything beyond that on Sunday might be “pushing it.”
“I’ll see how it feels Sunday, but my plan is probably four days,” said Heyward, who received two cortisone shots in his shoulder on Thursday afternoon.
Four days of rest would put his return Monday in the series-opener against the Astros. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez didn’t plan to put Heyward in the lineup again until then.
Joe Mather replaced Heyward in right field on Friday night against Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, having gone 3-for-6 against him. Gonzalez said Eric Hinske will start in right Saturday and Sunday against the Phillies’ scheduled starters Joe Blanton and Roy Halladay, both right-handers. Hinske is 14-for-40 (.350) with three home runs and 10 RBIs against right-handers this season.
Heyward has felt shoulder pain on and off since spring training but has seen it worsen this month. He’s hitting 2-for-28 with 13 strikeouts in May.
An MRI taken Thursday showed no significant damage, just some inflammation in his rotator cuff.
“(Doctors) said three, four days, don’t come back until you’re ready,” Heyward said. “Thank God no DL, no tears. (But Sunday) is pushing it a little bit. You’re taking time to get it fixed.”
Jurrjens’ using Venters grip
In his second game back from an oblique injury, Jair Jurrjens added a new twist to his sinker – a Jonny Venters-style grip.
Venters has earned the admiration of the rest of the Braves pitching staff over the past year for his 94-95 mph sinker from the left-hand side, which baffles hitters.
So Jurrjens, who felt like his fastball was flattening out, asked Venters about his grip in batting practice one day. Venters holds the two-seam fastball with his index and middle finger between the two seams. Jurrjens held his two fingers split in a more traditional position on the seams.
Jurrjens said he tried the new grip in a couple of bullpens, then debuted it against the Dodgers in LA. He gave up one run in six innings in that game and has been using it since.
“It’s sinking more, going down,” Jurrjens said. “The other one was running.”
Jurrjens is 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA in five starts since returning from the disabled list. He’s looking for his second win in a row against the Phillies Saturday.
Not that Venters thinks he has much to do with it.
“I’m going to take all the credit for his success,” Venters said with a smile.
Gonzalez planned to give Venters Friday night off after he’d pitched six times in eight days, including an off day. He’d pitched in six of the last seven games, including three in a row entering the Phillies’ series….
Braves hitting coach Larry Parrish missed Friday’s game for his daughter’s graduation in Bainbridge…Braves minor leaguer Mycal Jones was arrested for DUI early Friday morning in Pearl, Miss. and has been suspended from the Double-A Mississippi Braves. Jones was converted from shortstop to center field this season and was hitting only .174 in seven games, after opening the season on the disabled list with a foot injury.