Jason Heyward will continue to wear protective guard on his helmet

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Braves outfielder Jason Heyward wore a protective guard on his helmet after returning from a broken jaw last season and Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that he’ll continue to wear it in 2014.

Heyward broke his right jaw when he was hit in the face by a pitch by Mets’ left-hander Jon Niese last August 21 and required surgery to have two plates inserted. While it was initially feared that he would miss the rest of the season, he managed to make it back within a month and was active for the Braves’ NLDS loss to the Dodgers.

Heyward, 24, hit .254/.349/.427 with 14 home runs and 38 RBI in 104 games last season. He’s expected to be the regular leadoff hitter for the Braves this year.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.