Braves right fielder Jason Heyward had an MRI that ruled out any issues with his cervical spine, and he will be placed on a “maintenance and stretching program” to strengthen his right shoulder, the team said. No surgery is required.
Heyward spent 3-1/2 weeks on the disabled list in May and June for rotator-cuff inflammation in his right shoulder, which bothered him beginning late in spring training. He has had two MRI exams on the shoulder which showed no structural damage.
Heyward had the most recent MRI Thursday to see if there was anything spinal-related that was causing lingering soreness in the back of his shoulder, in order to give him peace of mind entering the offseason before he begins his workout regimen.
The NL rookie of the year runner-up in 2010, Heyward struggled in his second season and spent time on the bench in August. He hit .227 with 34 extra-base hits, 42 RBIs and a .319 on-base percentage in 128 games, down from .277 with 52 extra-base hits, 72 RBIs and a .393 OBP in 142 games as a rookie.
Braves general manager Frank Wren said two days after the season ended that Heyward would not be guaranteed a starting job next spring.
“He’s going to be in a battle unless he continues to progress at a good rate,” Wren said at that time, noting that Heyward made progress working on the adjustments the Braves asked him to make in his swing in the season’s final two months.
“He’s going to be in a battle for a position. It’s not a given he’s our right fielder. We’re going to go into the offseason planning with it in mind that we’ve got to have offensive production from right field. And we didn’t get that.”