MLB.com’s Mark Bowman has a big update on Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, who faced live pitching on Wednesday for the first time since having his jaw fractured in two places by a Jon Niese fastball August 21:
The Braves are still not providing a definitive timetable for Heyward. But there seems to be reason to believe Heyward could be back in Atlanta’s lineup by Monday, when the club begins its final homestand of the season against the Brewers. His return could help spark an offense that has slumbered since he suffered the unfortunate injury.
“I’ll play it by ear,” Heyward told Bowman, not wanting to commit to a certain return date. “I’m just taking it day by day now. We’ll see what happens this weekend and how I’m feeling when I get back home.”
It was assumed at the time of the injury — and subsequent facial surgery — that the 24-year-old outfielder would have to miss the remainder of the Braves’ 2013 regular season schedule, but the rehabilitation process has been seamless so far and Heyward is keeping his legs and arms in shape while his jaw heals.
Heyward was batting .253/.347/.423 with 13 home runs through 405 plate appearances this season. He’s likely to play center field when he returns, with Evan Gattis manning left field and Justin Upton in right.
The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.
Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.
Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.
As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.
Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.
Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.