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.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.