(Staff writer Carroll Rogers is filling in this series for David O’Brien.)
CINCINNATI – First off an update on Chipper Jones….There’s been a change in plan and he’s going to go on up to Single-A Rome to play in rehabilitation games tonight in a 7 p.m. start and tomorrow (Sunday) in a 2 p.m. start.
The Braves plan is for him to DH tonight and then either DH or play third base on Sunday. The idea is to give the surgically-repaired right knee a real test. If all goes well this weekend, he could be ready to come off the disabled list as early as Monday against the Pirates.
This has been a back and forth thing the past few days as you know. First Jones was going to Rome to rehab this weekend, then he wasn’t. I think what it boils down to is the Braves want him to get a rehab in and rather than put it off until next week, Jones will go ahead and get it in now.
He felt some soreness in his knee after taking batting practice mid-week in Gwinnett, but nothing Jones categorized as a setback.
So there you have it.
Catching up with Heyward
So it’s a little hot for a fireside chat, here in late July in Cincinnati, but what the heck. That’s a little what it felt like the conversation I had with Jason Heyward this morning in the clubhouse.
He’s got a lot going on, the Braves’ second-year right fielder, who’s had some hard times at the plate this season, a shoulder injury to fight through, and has come face-to-face with some serious sophomore struggles.
Now, a week away from the trade deadline Heyward faces the prospect that the Braves will go out and acquire a right-handed outfield bat, maybe even a Carlos Beltran, who will eat away at his playing time.
All along we’ve said Heyward seemed more mature than his age – he’ll turn 22 on August 9. He seemed it again this morning when I asked him about these things. Here was his response, when I asked if he was motivated by the possibility that the Braves would bring in another outfielder. (Hey, he’s hit two runs in the past two days.)
“I really don’t need any extra motivation than I have right now,” Heyward said. “That’s what’s great about this game. Certain things can make or break you, for me I enjoy a struggle sometimes.”
Not something you hear every day is it? Here’s him expanding on what he meant:
“Sometimes you need it to teach yourself how to get out of certain things,” Heyward said. “Because coming up in the minor leagues I hurt a little bit here and there, not necessarily a struggle. I wouldn’t say I was anywhere long enough to struggle.”
Good point. He hit .296 or above at every step in the minor leagues with the exception of a seven-game stint in Myrtle Beach in 2008 (.182, 4-for-22). He hit .296 in the GCL, .313 in Danville, .323 in Rome, .296 in Myrtle Beach in 2009, .352 in Mississippi and .364 in Gwinnett.
So yes, hitting .228 75 games into his second season in Atlanta has provided new challenges.
“It’s a good way to relearn some things,” Heyward said. “Figure out what works here, what I can tamper with here. Teach myself again. It’s not a question of putting the work in. I know how to work. Once I grasp what I need to work on, I’m ready and willing to go do it.”
Heyward said what’s he’s working on right now is thinking about his hands, something he said he got away from when he was dealing with the shoulder soreness.
“For me, I’m back to using my hands more so than my body, trying to break some bad habits,” Heyward said. “Seeing some good results, getting back to being myself at the plate.”
Last night’s pinch-hitting hero Dan Uggla is back in today. He tested the left calf running in the outfield and came away ready to go.
Jordan Schafer did some swinging today but isn’t ready yet to get back in the lineup today. Fredi Gonzalez did say he might pinch hit Schafer. He’s available to pinch run and play defense.
1. Martin Prado 3B
2. Jason Heyward RF
3. Brian McCann C
4. Freddie Freeman 1B
5. Dan Uggla 2B
6. Eric Hinske LF
7. Alex Gonzalez SS
8. Nate McLouth CF
9. Derek Lowe P