Jason Heyward has started to return to his normal routine now that his jaw has healed to a certain extent. He hit off a tee for the first time last week and had his first session of batting practice since his injury yesterday. He recently had all the gear that was hindering his ability to eat solid food removed from his mouth on Monday, which has helped him regain his strength quickly.
The Atlanta Braves are going to need Heyward if they stand any chance in the playoffs. He had underperformed the past few seasons and through the first half of 2013 as well, but when Fredi Gonzalez made him the leadoff man in the lineup earlier this season, he flowered into the top leadoff hitter in the game.
Heyward will definitely be healthy enough to play by the time the playoffs roll around — there is no question there. What is in question though, is will he have his form back by then?
It usually takes players some time to get their timing back in baseball. The most likely course of action is that Heyward will receive some rehabilitation play with the instructional league in the near future. The biggest issue with his rehab regarding preparation for the majors is that the minor league season has ended, so Heyward doesn’t have the opportunity to go play in the lesser leagues before returning to the show.
Hopefully, this will be a non-issue in the coming weeks and Heyward will have great success in the instructional league, preparing himself to return to his teammates. I’ll be crossing my fingers that he gets in a few at-bats at the major league level before the season ends as well; the last thing the Braves need is Heyward facing playoff-caliber pitchers after months of time spent out of the game.