When Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward crumpled to the ground after being hit in the jaw by a fastball from New York Mets starting pitcher Jonathon Niese in the top of the sixth inning of Wednesday’s 4-1 win, the Braves came face-to-face with something they’ve become all too accustomed to this season: an extended period without one of their regulars.
It was later discovered that Heyward will miss 4-6 weeks with a broken jaw, which likely means he’ll sit out the rest of the regular season and miss a significant amount of games for the second time this year. He missed nearly a month after undergoing an emergency appendectomy in late April.
Braves fans shouldn’t be worried, though, because this team has showed its depth time and time again throughout the year, dealing with season-ending injuries to the likes of left-handed relievers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, starter Tim Hudson and infielder Ramiro Pena.
They’ve also endures stints on the disabled list by such players as catchers Brian McCann and Evan Gattis, first baseman Freddie Freeman, outfielders B.J. Upton and Jordan Schafer, and second baseman Dan Uggla, who is currently out after having LASIK surgery that he hopes will solve the vision problems he has had this season.
It obviously hurts the Braves to lose Heyward, their leadoff man and a guy who has — or had — a great chance to win a National League Gold Glove Award; but just as they have every time adversity has struck, they’ll survive and perhaps even prosper thanks to one of the best benches in MLB.
Within the next few days, everybody will likely be talking about the play of Joey Terdoslavich or Todd Cunningham, or even Jose Constanza; and although Heyward will be gone and not forgotten, Braves Country will feel just a little bit better about losing the talented 24-year-old.
This club is 77-49 for a reason, after all.