Jason Heyward takes batting practice for first time since suffering jaw injury

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Braves outfielder Jason Heyward took batting practice prior to tonight’s game against the Padres, the first time he had done so since suffering a gruesome jaw injury a little more than three weeks ago, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Heyward was wearing a modified batting helmet for extra protection.

Heyward was hit in the jaw by a Jon Niese fastball in the sixth inning of a game against the Mets on August 21. He had been on a hot streak ever since manager Fredi Gonzalez moved him into the leadoff spot on July 27. He logged 12 multi-hit games out of 21 starts, including six consecutively from August 11-17. He had bumped his OPS up to .771 at the time of his injury.

O’Brien notes that there is no timetable for Heyward’s return, but the Braves hope he will be able to log some at-bats before the regular season runs out so he can be ready to contribute in the playoffs.

Mets invite Tim Tebow to spring training

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Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.

Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.

Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.