Jason Heyward hits off tee, will take batting practice soon

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Braves outfielder Jason Heyward has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 22 with soreness in his right shoulder and was called out recently by teammate Chipper Jones for not playing through minor injuries. Perhaps motivated by Chipper’s harsh words, Heyward took a big step toward returning Friday at extending spring training.

According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the 21-year-old right fielder hit off a tee and preformed “other baseball activities” down in Lake Buena Vista, Florida while reporting no issues with his shoulder. It was the first time he had swung a bat in three weeks.

The Braves are expected to begin ramping up Heyward’s rehab schedule this weekend. He should be taking batting practice and participating in extended spring training games within the next several days.

Heyward was batting just .214/.317/.407 with seven home runs and 14 RBI before his most recent injury. He finished the 2010 season with a promising .277/.393/.456 slash line, 72 RBI and 18 home runs.

Marcus Stroman dealing with blister again

Marcus Stroman
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Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman might be headed to the disabled list soon, manager John Gibbons told reporters following Friday’s rain-shortened loss to the Yankees. The righty lasted just four innings on the mound before calling it a night, and gave up five runs, six hits and two walks in a performance that Gibbons claimed was at least partially affected by recurring blister issues on his right middle finger. Now, it looks like he might be removed from the rotation for some much-needed rest and rehabilitation; if so, it’ll be his second such stint this year.

Stroman, 27, has struggled to return the kind of winning record and sub-4.00 ERA that characterized his previous seasons with the club, mostly due to the combined seven weeks he missed with blisters on his throwing hand and chronic fatigue in his right shoulder. In a recent start against the Rays, things got even more gruesome when his blister appeared to start bleeding in the middle of his outing and MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm notes that the wound has constantly interfered with the right-hander’s pitch selection and delivery. When healthy, Stroman has managed a 4-8 record through 18 starts in 2018 with a career-worst 5.27 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 6.8 SO/9 in 100 2/3 innings. This will be the first year since 2015 in which he has not logged at least 200 innings in a single season.

While Stroman may not need an extended stay on the DL before he returns to the mound, it’s not clear what kind of timetable the Blue Jays expect for his recovery. He’s been the second-most valuable starter (behind the now-traded J.A. Happ) in a rotation that currently ranks 17th in the majors with a combined 4.90 ERA and 6.8 fWAR.