ANAHEIM – Jason Heyward was placed on the 15-day disabled list for recurring soreness in his right shoulder, the latest in a series of injury setbacks for the Braves’ prized right fielder.
Injuries are mounting for the Braves, and they didn’t want to go into the two-day Pittsburgh series that starts Tuesday not knowing if Heyward would be ready.
They purchased the contract of outfielder Wilkin Ramirez from Triple-A Gwinnett, creating a 40-man roster spot for Ramirez by moving relief pitcher Peter Moylan from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. Moylan had back surgery last week and is expected to be sidelined for about three months.
The Braves will likely go with hot-hitting Joe Mather in right, although Ramirez could see some playing time. Ramirez, 25, was hitting .248 with 15 extra-base hits (seven homers), 16 RBIs and six stolen bases in 33 games at Gwinnett, with a .513 slugging percentage but a skimpy .294 on-base percentage.
“Going into the National League games, you don’t want to be short,” said manager Fredi Gonzalez, of the decision to disabled Heyward.
Heyward was diagnosed with rotator-cuff inflammation in his non-throwing shoulder last week and got a cortisone shot. He missed five starts, returned to play three full games, then aggravated the shoulder in batting practice Friday.
He was used for defense in the final inning of Saturday’s 12-inning, 5-4 win against the Angels.
Heyward said the shoulder has bothered him since late in spring training, but worsened just more than a week ago to to the point where it hurt to swing. An MRI showed no structural damage, and the hope was that a few days of rest and the medication would take care of the problem.
But it didn’t.
Heyward is hitting .214 with 14 RBIs and a .317 on-base percentage in 45 games, although he’s tied for the team lead with seven homers. He is 4-for-41 (.098) with no RBIs and 15 strikeouts in May, including 2-for-12 in three starts since the cortisone shot.
The 21-year-old has been plagued by nagging injuries since the remarkable first two months of his 2010 rookie season. He hit .301 with 10 homers, 38 RBIs and a .421 OBP and .596 slugging percentage (1.016 OPS) in his first 46 games through May 30, 2010.
In 141 games since, he’s hit .252 with 15 homers, 48 RBIs and a .364 OBP and .399 slugging percentage (.763 OPS).