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.
Back during the 2015 playoffs the sorts of New York media types who love to find reasons to criticize players for petty reasons decided to criticize Yoenis Cespedes for playing golf the day of a playoff game. The Mets won the series with the Cubs during which the controversy, such as it was, occurred and it was soon dropped.
It was picked back up again in 2016 when Cespedes, while on the disabled list with a strained quad, was seen playing golf. Despite the fact that everyone involved said that golf did not contribute to his injury and that golf would have no impact on his injured quad, it was deemed “a bad look” by a columnist looking to get some mileage out of bashing Cespedes for having a hobby that probably half of all ballplayers share. They did it when he showed off his fancy cars too, by the way, even though just about every ballplayer has a fancy car or three. When you’re a superstar in New York — especially when you’re one with whom the media is not particularly close for various reasons — you’re going to catch hell for seemingly nothing.
Now there’s a new twist to the Cespedes golf saga. Yoenis himself says that his poor start — he’s hitting .195/.258/.354 and leads the league in strikeouts — is due to . . . not enough golf! From the New York Times:
He gave a possible reason for the poor start this weekend: not playing enough golf, a hobby beloved by many baseball players. And, yes, he is serious.
“In previous seasons, one of the things I did when I wasn’t going well was to play golf,” he said after a game on Friday in which he struck out four times but still drove in the go-ahead run in the 12th inning. “This year, I’m not playing golf.”
The story says Cespedes quit golf last summer because he worried that it was contributing to hamstring problems. He’s thinking about going back to it soon, as he thinks it’ll help his swing. Given that he’ll catch hell either way, he may as well do what he wants.