Braves outfielder Jason Heyward took batting practice prior to tonight’s game against the Padres, the first time he had done so since suffering a gruesome jaw injury a little more than three weeks ago, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Heyward was wearing a modified batting helmet for extra protection.
Heyward was hit in the jaw by a Jon Niese fastball in the sixth inning of a game against the Mets on August 21. He had been on a hot streak ever since manager Fredi Gonzalez moved him into the leadoff spot on July 27. He logged 12 multi-hit games out of 21 starts, including six consecutively from August 11-17. He had bumped his OPS up to .771 at the time of his injury.
O’Brien notes that there is no timetable for Heyward’s return, but the Braves hope he will be able to log some at-bats before the regular season runs out so he can be ready to contribute in the playoffs.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosh reports that the Cardinals are shutting down pitcher Carlos Martínez from throwing for two weeks because his shoulder strength isn’t where it should have been at this point. Langosch added that an MRI showed no structural damage in Martínez’s right shoulder.
Interestingly, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak didn’t sound too happy with Martínez offseason training regimen. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic, Mozeliak said, “Obviously, there’s a history with Carlos’ shoulder and it would be probably in everybody’s best interest if he maintained a constant or perpetual approach to that program.”
Martínez, 27, battled oblique and shoulder injuries last year. He accrued just 118 2/3 innings, making just 18 starts. He was moved to the bullpen when he returned from the disabled list in August and finished out the season in that role. Still, Martínez managed a 3.11 ERA with 117 strikeouts and 60 walks.
Langosch reported last week that the Cardinals were considering using Martínez in relief again in 2019. The latest news may push the Cardinals to indeed use Martínez out of the bullpen once again. He will be reevaluated in early March, but there is a chance he won’t be ready for Opening Day.