When Jason Heyward’s jaw was fractured in two places as the result of being hit by a pitch from Mets left-hander Jon Niese on August 21, it was assumed that he would miss the rest of the regular season, but Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that he has been activated from the disabled list and will bat leadoff and play center field this afternoon against the Cubs.
Heyward required surgery to address the fractures, but his rehab went smoothly and he progressed to facing live pitching in recent days. He’s expected to wear a custom helmet fitted with a plastic guard attached to protect his jaw, but getting some at-bats down the stretch will be a big plus, as he’ll be able to get comfortable and shake the rust before the postseason begins.
Heyward, 24, is batting .253/.347/.423 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI over 95 games this season. He has a .414 on-base percentage and .994 OPS in 22 games out of the leadoff spot.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.