While the Braves aren’t any closer to getting left-hander Jonny Venters back from an elbow injury, their lineup could receive a nice boost in the coming days.
According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jason Heyward went 0-for-5 with a walk and three strikeouts today in his first minor league rehab game with Triple-A Gwinnett. He’ll remain in the minors through the weekend, but Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated that he could be activated as soon as Monday’s series opener against the Diamondbacks.
Heyward is now two and a half weeks removed from his emergency appendectomy. He said late last month that he was hoping to make it back by the end of May, but fortunately for the Braves, he has made significant progress in recent days.
Heyward, 23, was batting .121 (7-for-58) with two home runs, five RBI and a .519 OPS in 17 games prior to the procedure. Jordan Schafer, Reed Johnson and Evan Gattis have all received looks in the outfield during his absence.
It has been evident throughout the playoffs that Astros second baseman José Altuve’s right knee is bothering him. Altuve battled a right knee issue in July, then banged it up again in Game 2 of the ALDS and it’s been a problem ever since.
Manager A.J. Hinch said that if it were the regular season, he wouldn’t put Altuve in the lineup. Per MLB.com’s Richard Justice, the full quote:
He’s hurt. And if it was any other time of the year, he wouldn’t be in the lineup or wouldn’t be playing. He’d probably be on the DL. … But he’s showing up every day in good spirits, ready to go, giving 100 percent of what he’s got. He should be commended.
Hinch also said of Altuve, “His teammates revere him. The production that he’s doing on one leg is pretty incredible. And he’s trying not to talk about it. And therefore I am.”
During the ALCS, Altuve has hit .250/.368/.313 in 16 at-bats. He has just one extra-base hit but he has racked up three singles and drawn three walks while scoring four runs. Hinch has had Marwin González start at second base Games 3 and 4 and is doing so again on Thursday night in Game 5.