Jason Heyward might be able to return early next week

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MLB.com’s Mark Bowman has a big update on Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, who faced live pitching on Wednesday for the first time since having his jaw fractured in two places by a Jon Niese fastball August 21:

The Braves are still not providing a definitive timetable for Heyward. But there seems to be reason to believe Heyward could be back in Atlanta’s lineup by Monday, when the club begins its final homestand of the season against the Brewers. His return could help spark an offense that has slumbered since he suffered the unfortunate injury.

“I’ll play it by ear,” Heyward told Bowman, not wanting to commit to a certain return date. “I’m just taking it day by day now. We’ll see what happens this weekend and how I’m feeling when I get back home.”

It was assumed at the time of the injury — and subsequent facial surgery — that the 24-year-old outfielder would have to miss the remainder of the Braves’ 2013 regular season schedule, but the rehabilitation process has been seamless so far and Heyward is keeping his legs and arms in shape while his jaw heals.

Heyward was batting .253/.347/.423 with 13 home runs through 405 plate appearances this season. He’s likely to play center field when he returns, with Evan Gattis manning left field and Justin Upton in right.

Report: Joe Girardi withdraws from consideration as Reds’ next manager

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Former Yankees skipper Joe Girardi has reportedly withdrawn his name for consideration in the Reds’ managerial search, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Per Rosenthal, Girardi was considered the frontrunner for the position, but elected to keep his current gig as an MLB Network analyst for the foreseeable future.

The 54-year-old skipper holds a lifetime 988-794 record in 11 years with the Marlins and Yankees. He cut his teeth on the Marlins’ 2006 season, during which the team skidded to a fourth-place finish in the NL East, then helped the Yankees to 10 consecutive winning records and a World Series title. While Mark Feinsand of MLB.com adds that Girardi “absolutely wants to manage again,” it’s unclear when and with whom he might choose to do so.

Without Girardi, the Reds still have several candidates left in play, not the least of whom is retired MLB third baseman David Bell. Bell previously served as the Reds’ Double-A and Triple-A manager from 2008-2012 and racked up a cumulative 227-332 record during that span. His resume also includes several coaching positions with the Cubs and Cardinals, and most recently, a role as VP of player development for the Giants in 2018. As Rosenthal points out, however, the 46-year-old coach is hardly a lock for a managerial spot with the Reds, as he’s also made a strong impression on the Blue Jays, Rangers, and Giants this fall.